HALF OF ALL AMERICANS will be diagnosed at some point in their lives with cancer, the number two killer in the United States. One of the professions at the frontlines in the battle against cancer are medical physicists - scientists who use the power and innovation of physics to study and solve the most pressing medical problems.
Medical physicists help to develop new imaging technologies, such as dedicated breast CT scans, and improve existing ones. They devise new therapeutic techniques, including new radiotherapy applicators for cervical cancer treatment and procedures to focus radiation using nanoparticles, quantum dots, and other discoveries from the cutting edge of science, and they create methods to assess the safety and effectiveness of treatments that are already in use.
These and other topics will be the focus later this month of the 50th annual meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), the largest medical physics association in the world. The meeting takes place from July 27 to July 31, in Houston, Texas.
Journalists are invited to cover the AAPM meeting in person or remotely. Additional news releases detailing other meeting highlights are hosted on the AAPM website (see link below).
—-SECTION ONE: CANCER RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS IN BRIEF—-
1) BREAST CT SCANNERS PROMISE PAINLESS ALTERNATIVE TO MAMMOGRAPHY
“...The discomfort of a mammogram can drive some women to avoid the valuable screening, occasionally with dire consequences. Now a new procedure, dedicated breast computed tomography (CT), promises to take the pain out of breast cancer detection…” MORE DETAILS BELOW
2) MEASURING CANCER THERAPY SUCCESS WITH OXYGEN
“...Scientists at The Ohio State University (OSU) have identified a way to predict very early in the treatment process the outcome of radiation and chemotherapy for cervical cancer patients - based on oxygen levels within the tumor…” MORE DETAILS BELOW
3) HYBRID IMAGER COULD IMPROVE BREAST EXAMS
“...An integrated, multi-modality molecular imaging system may improve detection, diagnosis and treatment monitoring of breast cancer, while also relieving some of the discomfort often associated with breast exams. The system allows subjects to lie prone while both a dedicated SPECT and CT scan are taken of the breast…” MORE DETAILS BELOW
4) SPARING LEUKEMIA PATIENTS FROM UNNECESSARY TREATMENT
“...Nearly a third of leukemia patients do not respond to chemotherapy, but this is not usually discovered until they have already endured a week-long chemotherapy treatment and waited a month to see whether it has worked. A new study shows that PET scans could tell how well a patient is responding after just one day of chemotherapy…” MORE DETAILS BELOW
5) OPTIMIZING THE TREATMENT OF SHALLOW TUMORS
“... A promising new way to treat superficial tumors, such as tumors of the scalp or of the chest wall after a mastectomy, is a procedure called modulated electron therapy (MERT). [Researchers] at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a number of tools that make MERT more effective and customizable to individual patients…” MORE DETAILS BELOW
6) IN THE ZONE: USING LOW OXYGEN ZONES OF TUMORS TO GUIDE RADIATION THERAPY FOR HEAD AND NECK CANCERS
“...A familiar problem in cancer radiation therapy is the persistence of tumors that do not respond to standard doses. Tumors that are low in oxygen (“hypoxic”) are in this category. They resist the curative effects of both radiation and chemotherapy-but that may change as a result of preliminary work by a group of New York researchers…” MORE DETAILS BELOW
7) STUDY CORRELATES TEMPORAL CHANGES IN TUMOR HETEROGENEITY TO TREATMENT RESPONSE
“...Some cancer cells may be highly resistant to radiation therapy, while others are insensitive to the drugs used in chemotherapy, all of which can confound cancer therapy. But does tumor heterogeneity change because of cancer treatment? [Researchers] at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have taken the first steps toward finding an answer…” MORE DETAILS BELOW
8) NOVEL INSTRUMENT MAY IMPROVE UPON THE SAFETY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF CERVICAL CANCER BRACHYTHERAPY TREATMENTS
“... To treat cervical cancer, clinicians apply a high dose of radiation directly to diseased tissues, which may be administered using a device called an intracavitary brachytherapy applicator. Researchers at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have designed a new applicator made out of special materials that makes it compatible with MRIs, and features a movable shield that both reduces the exposure of healthy tissues to radiation and permits the use of CT and MRI scans…“MORE DETAILS BELOW
9) INNOVATIVE TECHNIQUE MAY ALLOW REAL-TIME IMAGING FOR PROTON THERAPY
“...One of the most effective means of treating cancers is via radiation therapy. However, ionization and its by-products damage both the cancer and normal cells….” MORE DETAILS BELOW
10) AUTOMATED COMPUTER ANALYSIS FOR DIAGNOSING BREAST CANCER
“... Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the development of cancer cells within the milk ducts of breast tissue, is thought to be a possible precursor of invasive cancer… Now researchers at the University of Chicago have developed an automated computer image analysis technique to ultimately characterize and diagnose DCIS and other breast carcinomas…” MORE DETAILS BELOW
11) TRACKING TUMORS WITH BATED BREATH
“...Breathing is a major complication for radiation treatment of lung cancer. The latest technology plans to tackle the problem by moving the radiation beam in unison with the breath. To help in the tracking, researchers have devised a new algorithm - similar to one used by the post office - that can predict where a tumor will be one second beforehand…” MORE DETAILS BELOW
——SECTION TWO: FULL DETAILS ON SELECTED CANCER RESEARCH—-