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HOUSTON MEETING HIGHLIGHTS: Physics and the Future of Medicine
American Association of Physicists in Medicine Meeting, July 27 to July 31

7. NOVEL INSTRUMENT MAY IMPROVE UPON THE SAFETY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF CERVICAL CANCER BRACHYTHERAPY TREATMENTS

To treat cervical cancer, clinicians apply a high dose of radiation directly to diseased tissues, which may be administered using a device called an intracavitary brachytherapy applicator. Imaging the treated areas using computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) improves the effectiveness of treatments because the scans allow clinicians to accurately plan the radiation treatments. But when so-called "shielded" applicators, which contain metal shields to protect healthy bladder and rectal tissues from radiation exposure, are used to deliver these treatments, CT images exhibit distortion. Furthermore, the devices themselves are not compatible with MRI scanners.

A new design avoids those problems. The applicator was invented and developed by the faculty at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and evaluated by Ph.D. medical physics candidate, Michael J. Price (mjprice@mdanderson.org) for his dissertation work under the direction of Firas Mourtada, Ph.D. It is made out of special materials that makes it compatible with MRIs, and features a movable shield that both reduces the exposure of healthy tissues to radiation and permits the use of CT and MRI scans. Because the shield can be moved out of the path of the scanners' beams, the applicator can be used in conjunction with CT without distortion to the images. In addition, Price says, "the position of the shield can be adjusted as a function of specific patient anatomy," allowing clinicians to tailor treatments for each individual patient. Preliminary studies by the MD Anderson team show that the device may reduce the radiation dose to the rectum by 22% when compared to a commonly used CT/MRI-compatible intracavitary brachytherapy applicator.

Talk (SU-H-AUD C-10), "The Imaging and Dosimetric Capabilities of a Novel CT/MR-Suitable, Anatomically Adaptive, Shielded HDR/PDR Intracavitary Brachytherapy Applicator for the Treatment of Cervical Cancer" is at 5:48 p.m. on Sunday, July 28, 2008. Abstract: http://www.aapm.org/meetings/amos2/pdf/35-9284-60990-964.pdf.

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ABOUT AAPM

The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) is a scientific, educational, and professional nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the application of physics to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease. The association encourages innovative research and development, helps disseminate scientific and technical information, fosters the education and professional development of medical physicists, and promotes the highest quality medical services for patients. In 2008, AAPM will celebrate its 50th year of serving patients, physicians, and physicists. Please visit the association's Web site at http://www.aapm.org/.

ABOUT AIP

Headquartered in College Park, MD., the American Institute of Physics is a not-for-profit membership corporation chartered in New York State in 1931 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare.

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Media contacts:

Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics,
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Jeff Limmer, AAPM Media Relations Subcommittee Chair
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