New Technology Of alternative Cancer treatment

Cancer awareness has come a long way. With the pink ribbon campaigns for breast

cancer and blue ribbons prostate cancer, the general public is certainly aware of

the myriad ways to support cancer causes. But, what do we really know about

research and technology behind our awareness efforts? If we delve a little deeper

and actually see the innovative technology behind cancer treatments, we find

procedures and therapies like Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy, proton

therapy and gamma knife therapy.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

These plates shape the photon beam to the dimensions of the tumor.

IMRT uses photons rays to control cell growth. The ionizing radiation works by

damaging the DNA of the targeted tissue. It is believed that cancer cells may be

more susceptible to death by this process because many of them lose the ability to

repair their DNA when they become cancerous. The amount of radiation used in

photon radiation therapy is measured in gray (Gy). It varies depending on the type

of the cancer being treated and it’s severity. The typical dose for a solid epithelial

tumor ranges from 60 to 80 Gy. Lymphomas are treated with 20 to 40 Gy. To avoid

healthy tissue, shaped radiation beams are aimed from several angles and intersect

at the tumor. Organs like the bladder, stomach and lungs are always expanding and

shrinking with-in the body. Unfortunately, this movement can cause the tumor to

slightly shift from the time it is mapped out and when radiation is administered.

To account for this movement a cusp of healthy tissue around the tumor is also

targeted. This area will experience the full strength of the radiation.

Proton Therapy

In a proton therapy treatment room, the beam can be delivered from any angle.

Protons are heavier than photons and, therefore, present a less scattered beam

when targeted. Protons attack the DNA of cancer cells just like photons; however,

a more streamline beam of radiation means that surrounding tissue is much less

affected. Because the damage to healthy tissue is limited, a higher dose of radiation

can be used with proton beams. Heavier doses go straight to the tumor, and there

is no exit dose past the tumor Proton therapy is especially beneficial for tumors

in or near sensitive areas. Cancer around the eyes, heart, brain or genitalia can be

dangerous to target without such a focused beam. Pediatric cancers and tumor are

also often treated with protons.

Gamma Knife

A diagram of the shape of a Gamma Knife machine

A Gamma Knife typically contains 20 cobalt-60 sources of approximately 30 curies.

These sources are mounted in a circular formation inside a heavily shielded helmet.

Each one of the sources delivers a beam of gamma rays. The helmet that the patient

is wearing is surgically attached. This guarantees that the brain, and consequently

the tumor, will stay in exactly the same place through the treatment. The gamma

rays are targeted at the tumor very precisely. Each ray itself is a fairly low amount

of radiation. Combined, however, the rays have a powerful impact on the targeted

area. The surrounding brain tissue does have radiation passing through. Because

the system produces so many rays, the strength of each one can be diminished. It’s

hopeful that the healthy issue is not negatively affected.

One thought on “New Technology Of alternative Cancer treatment

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