Mathematical models improve the quality and efficacy of radiotherapy

March 30, 2017

Radiotherapy, in which radioactive radiation is used to damage cancer cells, is a common cancer treatment. However, the people applying the treatment are only human and there are other uncertainties involved in it. On March 31st, Marleen Balvert will be defending her PhD thesis in which she shows that these risk scan be reduced using mathematical optimization models.

Because can penetrate healthy tissue, radiotherapy is eminently suitable for the treatment of deep-seated tumors that are difficult to get at for surgeons because of the surrounding tissue. Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent that a certain amount of radiation will affect the surrounding tissue. However, the that reaches these organs can be reduced by, among other things, choosing the right positions from which radiation is applied, the intensity of the radiation, and the duration of the radiation. Mathematical models can help doctors find the right balance between the quality of the treatment plan in terms of high doses for the tumor and low doses to surrounding tissue.

Uncertainties in treatment plans

In making a treatment plan, uncertainties cannot be avoided. A plan is made on the basis of a body scan in which the exact locations of the tumor and the healthy are difficult to pinpoint. The true position of the tumor or a healthy organ can deviate slightly from the position the doctor has observed in the scan. As a result, the radiation dose that reaches the tumor can be too low. To reduce the risks a mathematical has been developed in which these uncertainties are incorporated. The model includes all possible locations of the tumor and the healthy organs, and yields a treatment plan that in the worst-case scenario offers the best treatment possible.

Reducing the risk of too low doses

The new optimization model has been developed for brachytheraphy, a in which tiny radioactive sources are inserted into the tumor and irradiate the tumor from within. The model has been tested with data from six prostate cancer patients. The results show that in comparison to the currently utilized clinical method the new planning model reduces the risks of getting too low doses in the . Further research with data from a larger group of patients is required to substantiate these results.

Explore further: Preventing radiation in cancer therapies to damage healthy organs

Related Stories

Preventing radiation in cancer therapies to damage healthy organs

November 11, 2015
When a person receives radiation cancer treatment, he or she is exposed to ionizing radiation; to prevent damaging healthy tissue, Dr. Guerda Massillon, researcher at the National University of Mexico (UNAM), studied the ...

Novel radiation therapy safely treats prostate cancer and lowers the risk of recurrence

June 26, 2012
A recent Phase I/II clinical trial has shown that a new combination of radiation therapies developed at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center escalates radiation doses to safely and effectively treat prostate ...

Lung cancer clinical trial finds lung function without additional imaging

January 6, 2016
A newly NIH funded clinical trial (NCT02528942) by University of Colorado Cancer Center investigators and collaborators at Beaumont Health in Michigan and the University of Texas Medical Branch is evaluating a new method ...

Researchers identifiy more accurate treatment delivery for robotic radiosurgery system

October 2, 2011
– Radiosurgery is a non-invasive medical procedure in which focused beams of high-energy X-rays target tumors and other abnormalities in the body. A single large dose of radiation is capable of ablating a lesion that ...

Recommended for you

Alternative splicing, an important mechanism for cancer

September 22, 2017
Cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, arises from the disruption of essential mechanisms of the normal cell life cycle, such as replication control, DNA repair and cell death. Thanks to the advances ...

'Labyrinth' chip could help monitor aggressive cancer stem cells

September 21, 2017
Inspired by the Labyrinth of Greek mythology, a new chip etched with fluid channels sends blood samples through a hydrodynamic maze to separate out rare circulating cancer cells into a relatively clean stream for analysis. ...

Drug combination may improve impact of immunotherapy in head and neck cancer

September 21, 2017
Checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapy has been shown to be very effective in recurrent and metastatic head and neck cancer but only in a minority of patients. University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers ...

Whole food diet may help prevent colon cancer, other chronic conditions

September 21, 2017
A diet that includes plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits may contain compounds that can stop colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases in pigs, according to an international team of researchers. Understanding how ...

New kinase detection method helps identify targets for developing cancer drugs

September 21, 2017
Purdue University researchers have developed a high-throughput method for matching kinases to the proteins they phosphorylate, speeding the ability to identify multiple potential cancer drug targets.

Poliovirus therapy induces immune responses against cancer

September 20, 2017
An investigational therapy using modified poliovirus to attack cancer tumors appears to unleash the body's own capacity to fight malignancies by activating an inflammation process that counter's the ability of cancer cells ...

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.