Wireless Tumor Tracker
Reported September 2006
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Ready, set, radiate! Seems simple enough, but doctors say there's a lot of guesswork that goes into delivering radiation to cancer patients. They can't always pinpoint a tumor's exact spot and know exactly how much radiation hits it.
"If the tumor doesn't get enough to control it -- doesn't get enough radiation to control it -- you'll have treatment failure," says Wallace Morrison, D.V.M., a cancer specialist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Electrical and computer engineer Purdue Babak Ziaie, Ph.D. is working to change that. "This is our first prototype. It's about the size of a dime," he says. His goal is a prototype as small as a grain of rice that solves two big problems.
"Our target right now is to combine the two capabilities in a single device -- tracking and measurement of the dose in a single device -- to give a lot more information, really, and a lot better treatment planning," Ziaie tells Ivanhoe.
Doctors will implant the capsule into a tumor and activated with electrical coils placed next to the body. It contains a miniature version of a dosimeter, which tells how much radiation the tumor receives. They could also implant the device into healthy tissue so doctors know how much damage there is to surrounding organs.
Other radiation systems can track tumors, but Dr. Ziaie says they are often very costly and rely on Z-rays that increase the amount of radiation exposure patients have.
Patients are excited about what better treatment could mean for them.
"I just hope I get a little time, you know," says radiation patient Josephine Diener. "I don't want to go in six months, that's for sure."
Radiation patient Jack Eiler says, "...Grow old. Be happy. Pretty much have a successful life..."
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Babak Ziaie, Ph.D.
Electrical & Computer Engineer
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Washington, D.C. 20036-5104
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