Cancer treatment without the dreaded side effects sounds like a dream come true, but researchers suggest that it may be on the horizon within the next decade.
According to an article published in Science Daily, two radiation oncology researchers used a high dose of radiation to eradicate cancerous brain tumors in mice.
Here’s the science behind the process: Traditionally, radiation therapy uses divided doses of radiation over a period of time. This method exposes the tumor and surrounding tissue to radiation for several minutes at a time.
This new method, termed Flash radiation therapy (Flash-RT), delivers the same dose of radiation in only fractions of a second, thus eliminating much of the toxicity that cancer patients are often exposed to with traditional treatment. This significantly decreases painful side effects such as inflammation and cognitive impairments.
The data collected by these two researchers found that Flash-RT was just as effective as traditional radiation therapy.
This study focused directly on brain tumors, but Flash-RT has been proven to treat lung, skin and intestinal cancers in animals (and one human) as well.
What’s next? Now that this method of treatment has proven successful, engineering groups have begun crafting machines that would make flash technology available in clinics. Currently, one device is awaiting approval in the U.S. and in Europe.