By Michaela Gibson Morris
TUPELO – City cancer doctors have a new way to target tumors.
Recently installed equipment at North Mississippi Medical Center’s Cancer Center uses image-guided radiotherapy to target the cancer more precisely.
The new technology lets the doctors and technicians reduce the amount of healthy tissue that is exposed to the radiation.
“That should mean reduced complications,” said Tupelo radiation oncologist Dr. Bert Duncan. “This is a big advance.”
The new machine combines very good X-rays with the linear accelerator that delivers the energy waves that kill the cancer cells. Computer software lets the technicians align the patient to the treatment plan set up by doctors.
“It’s more precise,” Duncan said.
Previously, radiation oncologists would have to account for variations in patient position inside and out. Typically they marked patients’ skin to serve as guides for the daily treatments.
The new technology lets them look inside patients with X-rays at the time of treatment. In some cases, they use nearby bones to zero in on the location of the tumor. In other cases, the tumor has special markers injected into it that will show up on the X-rays.
For example, in treating prostate cancer, doctors can inject tiny gold seeds into the walnut-sized gland, and those seeds show up on the X-ray. Because the prostate can move around inside the groin, the new image-guided system is especially helpful in making sure the radiotherapy is delivered where it can do the most good.
“We know where it is in real time,” Duncan said of their target.
The image-guided radiothearpy is part of a continuing trend in cancer treatment toward more targeted therapies, Duncan said. The idea is to deliver as strong a dose as possible to the tumor and minimize the damage to healthy tissue.
Contact Daily Journal health reporter Michaela Gibson Morris at 678-1599 or email@example.com.