Although encouraging results have been obtained using systemic radioimmunotherapy in the treatment of cancer, it is likely that regional applications may prove more effective. One such strategy is the treatment of central nervous system leukemia in children by intrathecal instillation of targeting or nontargeting β particle emitting radionuclide carriers. The β particle dosimetry of the spine is assessed, assuming that the spinal cord and the cerebrospinal fluid compartment can be adequately represented by a cylindrical annulus. The radionuclides investigated were 90Y, 131I, 67Cu, and 199Au. It is shown that the radiation dose to the cord can be significantly reduced using short range β particle emitters and that there is little advantage in using targeting carriers with these radionuclides. 199Au and 67Cu also have the advantage of having a suitable γ emission for imaging, permitting pretherapy imaging and dosimetric calculations to be undertaken prior to therapy. If these methods prove successful, it may be possible to replace the external beam component used in the treatment of central nervous system leukemia in children by intrathecal radionuclide therapy, thus reducing or avoiding side effects such as growth and intellectual impairment.

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Presented at the “Second Conference on Radioimmunodetection and Radioimmunotherapy of Cancer,” September 8–10, 1988, Princeton, NJ.

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