Not a topic foremost in the minds of many here at any given time, but one which affects far too many and the ones they know and love at some time…so…
The way things are, for many forms of cancer, radiation (to kill the cancer cells) is a necessary adjunct to chemotherapy, immunotherapy and surgery. It has big drawbacks, though. Healthy tissue is irradiated along with the cancer. It can cause burns, inflammation, pain, nausea and vomiting and diarrhea. For infants and children, these problems are worse, since they are so small.
So, tomotherapy (where the radiation source is rotated) was invented, and to decrease the spread of radiation, beam energy was increased, but this delivered that dose uniformly to everything in front of and behind the target, so more frequent treatments at lower doses from more angles were required. Unfortunately, you really want the maximum dose (or as close to) to be delivered at one sitting to maximize lethality to the target growth. The complexity, and cost of these machines skyrocketed. Availability decreased since cost went up and, availability dropped as the machines would also have to be located in well, bunkers underground to prevent the radiation dispersing.
That is, until now: Mercy Beam has been invented. The whole thing is basically a lens system for the divergent (or non-coherent) radiation which like all radiation, diverges from its source, to be focused as with a magnifying glass. So, even if more than one angle and dose are needed, the low energy beam’s focus allows far lower doses to be given to surrounding tissues.
Here are some images to help explain this.
So…the bottom line is that hopefully, the treatment for cancer will become more merciful with fewer side effects and more available so that people who are ill enough already can be treated closer to home and their loved ones at far lower expense.
I think that’s worth a Sunday article.