Concern over cremation of cancer patients

Doctors have discovered that radioactive drugs used in treatment can be released into the air

There may be unanticipated risks if patients treated with radioactive drugs die and their bodies are cremated, a case report suggests.

After learning one of their patients had died and been sent for cremation, Arizona doctors sought to discover whether his radioactive medications were released into the air after being superheated, according to their report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"What we were really worried about was the possibility of someone breathing in the radioisotope," said lead author Dr Nathan Yu, a resident physician in the department of radiation oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.

"Once you breathe it in, it's in your body and in direct contact with tissues."

The patient, who was 69 when he died, had been treated with the radiopharmaceutical Lutetium 177 dotatate (Lu 177) at the Mayo Clinic. The next day he was admitted to a different hospital with