(WGHP) — The medical world has been making strides in the fight against cancer for decades.
Although we are unlikely to eradicate the disease in our lifetime, many types of cancer (there are over 5,000) are much more like manageable diseases than death sentences.
And Cone Health has made what some consider a leap forward in treating cancer with computer programs.
What Cone did was pioneer cancer radiation plans with computer programs.
“We identify the tumor with a CT scan…then we erase the tumor using radiation,” said Lane Hayes, one of Cone Health’s medical physicists. “So we’re using computers to model how that radiation is going to interact with the person and hopefully prioritize the destruction of the tumor over the destruction of normal tissue.”
There are more benefits than meets the eye. First, it allows Cone to “work at patient speed”, meaning to treat the patient when they are ready, which is often earlier than scheduled in the treatment plan.
“Planning radiation therapy is quite a laborious and time-consuming process that we’re asking staff members to do now…with this method that we’re using, we can generate them in a fraction of the time,” Hayes said.
It’s not nothing. Each week that passes without treatment can mean a 2-5% higher mortality rate.
But Cone’s innovation isn’t just about speed. They discover that the plans provided by their software are certainly as good and often better than what a clinician can make over a much longer period of time.
“What we’ve found is that the vast majority of the time our clinicians can’t tell the difference between the two plans because they’re equivalent or what we’re doing with the machine is actually better,” Hayes said.
“More than 80% of the time, the clinician chose the computer-generated plan,” said Hayes’ Cone Health colleague Han Liu.
It’s this kind of work that brings a smile to Cone Health medical physicists like Hayes and Liu every time they walk into work.
“When you see a project like this, I think you see the potential, but you’re not sure you can pull it off,” Hayes said. “I think it’s huge. It motivates me every day. »
Learn more about how it works in this edition of the Buckley Report.
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