SEP 22, 2016 05:49 AM PDT
Particle Accelerators and Cancer
2 3 108

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
MAY 06, 2018
Videos
MAY 06, 2018
Here's What Happens When You Get Struck by Lightning
Many people share the common fear of being struck by lightning in a thunderstorm, and for good reasons. But have you ever stopped to think about what reall
MAY 19, 2018
Videos
MAY 19, 2018
Making Mini-brains From Neanderthal DNA
In recent years, scientists have turned to a new kind of research model: organoids. They are a miniature, simplified version of human organs that grows as
MAY 20, 2018
Videos
MAY 20, 2018
What to Do if Bitten by a Snake
Snake bites can be scary; not just because they're painful, but also because it can be tough to discern whether the attacking snake is venomous or not. Nev
MAY 23, 2018
Videos
MAY 23, 2018
Pig Brains Kept Alive in a Lab?
When the brain stops functioning, the body will eventually die, usually quite soon after. However, MIT's Technology Review reports that a team at Yale was
JUN 06, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
JUN 06, 2018
The Mechanism Behind Air Vortex Cannons
You probably have seen smoke rings blown by cigarette smokers or bubble rings from playful dolphins. But do you know that they are closely related to each
JUN 17, 2018
Videos
JUN 17, 2018
These Are the World's Largest Life Forms
Life forms throughout Earth’s history come in all different shapes and sizes, but have you ever wondered which ones were the largest? Mountain ash tr
Loading Comments...