SEP 22, 2016 05:49 AM PDT

Particle Accelerators and Cancer


When scientists speak about particle accelerators it's usually in reference to quantum physics, space applications or other experimental functions. What most people don't realize is that over half of the world's 35,000 particle accelerators are used to treat cancer. Not for space, or new forms of energy, but for treating several forms of cancer. Beginning with the discovery of X rays, which damage cancer through ionization of tumors, experts have realized that particle physics can play a role in medical treatment.

The problem with the photons in X-rays damaging the DNA in tumors is that they injure everything they are aimed at, even healthy tissue and they pass through the body leaving a wake of damage. For better precision and less collateral damage, protons are a more efficient particle to use. Particle accelerators can take protons, focus them into high energy rays and then aim them at the tumor. A law of physics known as the Bragg Peak can be manipulated so that the protons deposit specific amounts as the enter the body, and keep depositing them, at a lower amount as they travel through to the targeted tumor. At this point, they essentially "run out of gas" and stop, having done their duty without negatively impacting health tissue.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
NOV 01, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 01, 2018
Mid-air Chemistry Experiment Opens Up a New Era in Metal-organic Frameworks Research
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are molecules with network structures made of metal ion cores coordinated to organic ligands. Due to their high internal su...
NOV 11, 2018
Videos
NOV 11, 2018
Is Our Everyday Electronic Devices Making Us Sick?
1-5% of people believe their electronic devices are making them experiences symptoms associated with such as nausea, dizziness, and headaches. These indivi...
NOV 14, 2018
Videos
NOV 14, 2018
The Sunscreen Gene
Wouldn't it be convenient if we didn't have to worry about sunscreen because our bodies were able to just make it when we needed it?...
NOV 14, 2018
Videos
NOV 14, 2018
Visualizing Embryonic Development in Zebrafish
Zebrafish share genetic features with many other organisms, and they undergo a rapid developmental process in which they can remain transparent....
NOV 19, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 19, 2018
Kepler Scientists Reflect on the Now Retired Mission
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope recently ran out of fuel, preventing it from aligning its antenna toward Earth and maintaining communication. NASA knew...
NOV 28, 2018
Videos
NOV 28, 2018
What critics think about the first gene-edited babies
Chinese scientist He Jiankui took advantage of the International Human Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong to publicize the results of his Crispr-Cas9 trial...
Loading Comments...