Emerging “Flash” Radiation Therapy Could be Used to Treat Mesothelioma
Nicole Winch | February 11, 2021
Medical researchers and specialists have longed to find a way to treat cancer without the debilitating side effects. Fortunately, oncologists at the University of California, Irvine and Switzerland’s Lausanne University Hospital (UNIL) may have discovered it.
Radiotherapy, a common treatment for cancer patients, can often lead to incredibly uncomfortable and painful complications. However, this new breakthrough can be a way for patients to bypass this normally routine part of radiation.
The treatment in question is called FLASH radiation therapy (FLASH-RT). Researchers at the University of California-Irvine (UCI) have tested this technique on mice with brain tumors. The results proved to be extremely successful.
“It’s not unreasonable to expect that in 10 years, this may become a widespread option for radiotherapy patients worldwide,” says Charles Limoli, a professor at UCI.
Traditional radiation therapy focuses on the tumor and surrounding normal tissue for several minutes. FLASH-RT, however, administers the same dose in only a fraction of the time.
The speed of this method significantly decreases the chances of radiation beams hitting and damaging other healthy organs. According to a press release by UCI, medical experts “found that the same total dose of radiation delivered at quicker dose rates removed brain tumors just as effectively as the traditional method.”
While FLASH-RT was primarily used on the brain, it has also been applied to treat lung, skin and intestinal cancers. This technique of targeting only the tumors can be a new approach at treating patients with mesothelioma.
People who develop pleural mesothelioma account for 75% of all diagnosed cases. The cancer forms in the soft tissue protective lining between the lungs and chest wall. Oftentimes, pleural mesothelioma spreads to and can damage the tissue on the lungs itself.
When radiation is used, most of the sensitive tissue around the tumors is damaged and causes permanent scarring as well as other issues. FLASH-RT could potentially eliminate many of these side effects mesothelioma patients experience.
Scientists are hopeful that this new approach will be available in clinics around the world, now that this method is verified to work.”In the last 30 or 40 years, I’d say, there’s been nothing in the field of radiation sciences as exciting as this,” says professor Limoli.