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Open cancer surgery set to become a thing of the past
Date:9/24/2008

The surgeon's knife is playing an ever smaller role in the treatment of cancer, as it is replaced by increasingly efficient and safe radiation therapy techniques. Progress in radiation technology will also lead to better detection rates for cancer. This is according to Professor Freek Beekman, who will give his inaugural speech at Delft University of Technology on Wednesday, 24 September.

In his inaugural address, Kanker, krijg de straling , Professor Beekman says that radiation in the form of photons or particles is playing an increasingly important role in the detection and treatment of cancer. The low concentrations of radioactive molecules which gather in tumours, known as 'tumour seekers', show up well with techniques such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT). Such techniques mean that tumours can be discovered earlier more often than using X-rays, and it is also more often possible to ascertain properties of tumour cells without removing a sample of the tissue. Doctors can choose the best treatment for the individual patient more quickly and easily.

Removal

Destroying tumours by using radiation, rather than chemotherapy and operations, is also becoming an ever more common method of treatment and, Beekman says, the accuracy of this kind of therapy has improved considerably in recent years. When cancer is treated using external beams of radiation (as in radiotherapy), it is actually not only the tumour that is exposed to large amounts of radiation, but also any healthy tissue that is in the way of the beam. 'One example of a very powerful emerging technique is the use of a radiation beam consisting of particles (protons), instead of photons. This kind of beam reaches its peak intensity at the site of the tumour. This greatly reduces radiation damage in healthy tissue around the tumour.'

Finally, it is increasingly possible to treat tumours internally, for exam
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Contact: Frank Nuijens
f.w.nuijens@tudelft.nl
31-152-784-259
Delft University of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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