New radar better treats mobile tumors

March 19, 2012 By Karin Slyker, Texas Tech University
New radar better treats mobile tumors

A cancer forms and the battle begins. However, when the tumor floats freely, the disease claims an unfair advantage. 

Changzhan Gu, a Texas Tech doctoral student from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has set out to level the playing field. His new radar will help make treatment safer, more effective and more comfortable for the patients with floating tumors. And his work, under the supervision of assistant professor Changzhi Li, already has won awards at two premier conferences.

“The project utilizes radar sensor technology for biomedical applications of respiratory gating and tracking,” Gu said. “It is a brand-new technology to deal with mobile tumors.”

Take lung , for example. At approximately 3 million deaths annually, it is one of the most fatal cancers worldwide. If the tumor is floating, it then becomes a moving target. Compound that with a patient’s breathing and targeted radiation treatments become exponentially more difficult.

The primary device used to provide external beam radiation treatments to a patient is called a linear accelerator (LINAC). This machine delivers high-energy X-rays to the tumor, regardless of its location on the body. Ideal conditions would dictate that the tumor hold still while the concentrated beam is at work. So in the case of a floating tumor, specialists are forced to treat larger areas to compensate for the movement. While effective, it may damage healthy tissue surrounding that tumor.

To minimize the damage, specialists use respiration-gated , a promising treatment modality that precisely delivers a prescribed dose of radiation to floating tumors. Respiration-gated radiation therapy is only effective when the tumor is in a predefined gating window. This is accomplished when the LINAC is synced with the patient’s breathing pattern, so that radiation may be switched on and off as the tumor passes through the beam. The treatment becomes even more efficient when the patient is able to establish a steady rhythm through coached breathing, or verbal cues that let the patient know when to inhale and when to exhale. This reduces the volume of tissue irradiated, so it is safer and results in fewer side effects and complications, which in turn produces better outcomes.

But as impressive as this technology is, it also has its downfalls. For specialists to be able to monitor the patient’s respiration in real time, they must place infrared markers to signal the machine when to turn on and off.

“Internal markers are intrusive and can produce side effects,” Gu said. “External markers are uncomfortable and lack accuracy.”

To help combat the discomfort, Gu has developed a non-contact Doppler radar that better measures respiration signals during respiration-gated radiation therapy. Analysis of the measured signal from Gu’s device has proven to be more sensitive and more accurate, plus it requires no markers and sends the data back to a computer wirelessly. The radar is even sensitive enough to sense a disruption in the normal breathing pattern, such as a cough.

“At one milliwatt, the signal is also remarkably low power,” Gu said. “It is actually less than a cell phone.”

Gu’s research papers “Doppler Radar Respiration Measurement for Gated Lung Cancer Radiotherapy” and “Radar Motion Sensing for Accurate Tumor Tracking in Radiation Therapy” has won Best Paper Awards at two premier Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers conferences. And he has since filed an invention discloser with the Texas Tech University Office of Technology Commercialization of radar sensor for lung cancer treatment and is taking steps toward filing a provisional patent application before the end of the year.

This research is in collaboration with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Southwest Cancer Center and the Office of Technology Commercialization.

Explore further: Targeting tumors may help stop spread of breast, other cancers

Related Stories

Targeting tumors may help stop spread of breast, other cancers

February 3, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Cancer that has spread from the site of an original tumor to other places in the body is often viewed as a death sentence. But if there are just a few of those secondary tumors, called metastases, some ...

Proton imaging provides more accuracy, less radiation to pediatric cancer patients

April 29, 2011
Proton radiography imaging used prior to and during proton treatments for pediatric cancer patients provides for more accurate treatment delivery and a lower dose of radiation compared to standard diagnostic X-rays and cone ...

Patients benefit from modern radiation technology

February 24, 2012
Patients with tumors and other life-threatening conditions are benefiting from the steady evolution of radiosurgery and radiotherapy, treatments that are often described as "incisionless surgery” or "surgery without ...

Recommended for you

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.