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The top 5 ways medical physics has changed health care
Date:2/28/2008

CLE ACCELERATORS TO DEFEAT CANCER

In the last 50 years, medical physicists have spearheaded the development and application of particle accelerators for cancer treatment. Once confined only to physics laboratories, linear accelerators are sophisticated high energy machines that can now deliver beams of energetic electrons or X rays to malignant tumors -- at doses capable of killing cancerous cells and stopping the tumor's growth.

In recent years, an advanced treatment technique called intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has enhanced the ability of radiation to control tumors. IMRT uses computer programs to precisely shape the treatment field and control the accelerator beam in order to deliver a maximal dose of radiation to a tumor while minimizing the doses to surrounding healthy tissues. IMRT is already in use for treating prostate cancer, cancers of the brain, head and neck and other malignant diseases, in children and in adults.

2) BETTER DETECTION OF BREAST CANCER

Techniques for breast imaging have undergone substantial advances since the introduction of the original film techniques. The early emulsion films were replaced with more sensitive film stocks and finally with digital imaging. As each of these newer techniques was introduced, doses to the patient were reduced and the sensitivity of the techniques for finding early and treatable disease increased. Computer-aided diagnosis and the use of MRI and CT for breast imaging promises to further advance cancer detection and treatment in the 21st century. MRI breast imaging is proving particularly useful at finding growths in younger women and at earlier stages.

3) MATTER/ANTIMATTER COLLISION IMAGING

Another rapidly growing technique used to detect diseases in people of all ages is positron emission tomography (PET). This technique uses short-lived radionuclides produced in cyclotrons. These nuclides are labeled to compounds such as g
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Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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