New Radiation Therapy May Bypass Adverse Effects of Cancer Treatment

A new device that delivers doses in tenths of a second rather than minutes may bypass adverse effects associated with traditional cancer radiation therapy.

A new cancer treatment may be just as effective as traditional therapy without any of the debilitating adverse effects (AEs) associated with it, according to a study published in Clinical Cancer Research.

Traditional cancer radiation therapy (RT) exposes a tumor and nearby normal tissue to radiation for several minutes at a time. This long exposure can cause determinantal AEs, such as inflammation and cognitive impairment. However, FLASH-RT only exposes the tumor to radiation for tenths of a second. The short exposure time eliminated many of the toxicities that affect cancer survivors long after treatment ends, according to the study.

Investigators exposed mice with brain tumors to an ultra-high dose rate of RT. Like in traditional RT, the total radiation dose was divided over several sessions and the doses were delivered at quicker rates.

The therapy was found to bypass key AEs associated with cranial irradiation. Additionally, the quicker doses treated the brain tumors just as effectively as the traditional method according to the study.

"It's not unreasonable to expect that in 10 years, this may become a widespread option for radiotherapy patients worldwide," researcher Charles Limoli, PhD, said in the press release.

FLASH-RT technology has also been found to effective in treating lung, skin, and intestinal cancers across animals such as fish, mic, pigs, cats, and in 1 human subject. One FLASH device is currently awaiting approval in the United States and Europe.


Cancer treatment without side effects? [News release] October 27, 2020; Irvine, CA. Accessed October 28, 2020.

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