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Henry Ford physicist awarded for cancer radiation therapy research

DETROIT Henry Ford Hospital physicist Lei Ren, Ph.D., is among an elite group to be awarded for basic science research in radiation oncology at the 52nd annual American Society for Radiology Oncology (ASTRO) meeting in San Diego.

Dr. Ren received ASTRO's Basic Science Abstract Award for his research to reduce radiation therapy imaging dose and improve treatment accuracy by optimizing use of cone beam computed tomography (CT) an imaging technique that helps guide radiation therapy to better target tumors.

Dr. Ren is a senior associate physicist in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford.

The Basic Science Abstract Award is designed to encourage participation in the ASTRO Annual Meeting by basic scientists with an accepted abstract in either biology or physics.

In addition to receiving the award at the annual meeting, Dr. Ren will be presenting his research Oct. 31 during a special session to honor ASTRO's "Best in Physics" papers.

Unlike traditional CT which uses a multi-slice scanner to image the body, cone beam CT is smaller and its cone shaped x-ray beam reduces radiation dosage and time needed for scanning.

Cone beam CT has been widely used as an imaging guidance tool for radiation therapy of different types of cancer to improve the treatment accuracy.

Led by Dr. Ren, the Henry Ford research team worked to further enhance the performance of cone beam CT for image-guided radiation therapy. Currently, cone beam CT is being used at Henry Ford for radiation therapy to localize tumors more accurately and provide more precise treatment.

Using the prior knowledge about patient anatomy, the researchers were able to reconstruct high quality cone beam CT images with as low as 1/8 of the conventional cone beam CT imaging dose. The study revealed that the image quality was improved as the scan angle increased.

"Using this method, we can potentially reduce the imaging dosage in radiation therapy by eightfold," says Dr. Ren.

"Our study results will be especially useful for lung cancer patients, where breathing motion during treatment can impact treatment accuracy. It will allow us to track the tumor during motion to improve treatment, evaluate dose delivered in each treatment fraction and adjust treatment for better coverage of the tumor."

Overall, the new technique to use cone beam CT will help reduce the imaging dose and improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, he says.


Contact: Krista Hopson
Henry Ford Health System

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