New Technology Targets Tumors

May 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Senator Edward Kennedy is at home this evening after doctors discovered a malignant tumor in his brain.He is recovering from a biopsy as his doctors decide how to treat the cancer but a new technology can pinpoint some tumors and increase a patient's chance of survival.

Ken Sanders fought throat cancer for two years. Sanders finds peace as an organ player at his church. Sanders says, "It makes me feel wonderful, it's the saving grace, I guess."

Every day, Sanders gets I.G.R.T. or image guided radiation therapy. The new four-dimensional imaging system is designed to target tumors, compensate for their motion, and miss healthy tissue around them, making it much more precise than traditional radiation.

Oncologist, Morris Geffen is Sanders' doctor. He said, "It was as if you were hit by a shot gun, and now it's as if we have a laser-guided painting gun. We can paint the dose into a very specific target and miss the normal tissue."

And because tumors move before every treatment, the 4-D scan updates the location of the tumor, and then the radiation can be re-aligned to hit the target.

Dr. Geffen said, "Not only is the precision better but we're now able to escalate the dose to such a degree that we can cure more cancers. One of the more famous radiation oncologists in the world paraphrased that this is the most significant advance in cancer management in the last 25 years."

Another patient, M'Liss Mahn said it saved her life. She had an inoperable tumor behind her eye. "The tumor was sitting, growing into my skull."

Over 70 days of I.G.R.T. doctors targeted her tumor with high doses of radiation, but were able to spare her eyes, her hearing, and fragile healthy tissue in her face. Now, she's cancer free, appreciating every day.


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