A POWERFUL new therapy for prostate cancer uses a complex mathematical technique to give doses of radiation according to the precise needs of each patient.
The technique allows doctors to place radioactive "seeds” around the prostate gland with much greater accuracy than has been possible so that lower, individually tailored doses can be given. More radiation is delivered directly to the tumour and less to the healthy tissue, resulting in more effective treatment and fewer side-effects.
It is also fast: treatment plans that now take hours to prepare can be calculated in minutes.
Eva Lee, of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University School of Medicine, both in Atlanta, said that the system would bring great benefits to prostate cancer patients as well as cutting the cost of treatment.
"We can deliver better precision and create the optimal plan for each patient," she told the conference. "This system should help cut the recurrence rate for prostate cancer and reduce toxicity to healthy tissue.
"To the physician, this will be a black box. They will not need to know the mathematics. All they have to do is tell the system what they want."
Dr Lee developed the technology with Macro Zaider, of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York.