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| Michael P. Ehline

Particle Physics Pushing Cancer Treatment Boundaries – Hope for Vets?

Existing cancer treatments have posed a certain health risk to patients. With no other options available, patients must deal with the side effects to move on with their lives. 

However, with research at the CERN lab showing positive results, it may only be a few years before treating cancer becomes efficient and far more effective than it is.

Europe’s Science Lab, CERN, Are Exploring Cancer Treatment Using Particle Accelerators

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, operates the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. CERN challenges the universe’s understanding daily. However, they are now applying their expertise to expand the boundaries of cancer treatment.

In one of Europe’s science labs at CERN, researchers are working on creating very high-energy beams of electrons using a linear particle accelerator, consisting of a metal beam loaded with tubes covered in aluminum foil with many protruding colourful wires and scientific instruments to help with measurements.

Physicists in the CERN lab are exploring new cancer therapy methods through giant particle accelerators. They believe that the negatively charged particles can assist in combating cancer cells far more efficiently and effectively than radiation therapy.

According to the researchers, they are looking to create a technology that would help in accelerating electrons to the energy required to combat tumors that are hard to reach.

The new treatment method, also known as FLASH, can help treat deep-seated tumours through very high-energy electrons (VHEE).

Cancer Radiation Therapy Comes with Collateral Damage

Radiation therapy can cause a lot of harm to organs and other body parts. The new FLASH treatment would help combat cancerous cells while reducing the damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

In 2018, the FLASH treatment through linear accelerators was initially used on patients. The low-energy electron beams showed effectiveness against tumors, but such low-energy treatment can only target superficial tumours found in skin cancer.

Now the researchers at Europe’s science lab, CERN, are working towards building FLASH equipment that would make it possible for the electrons to accelerate much quicker.

It would allow for high-energy beams required to target tumors that are hard to reach rather than on the surface of the skin.

Game-changing Cancer Treatment Can Improve Lives

With traditional radiation therapy and other existing cancer treatments, it is difficult to target cancer tumors deep inside the body, resulting in a higher chance of death. 

Even after cancer treatments, these hidden cancer cells again expand throughout the body. With the FLASH treatment, it would be possible to target them, properly damaging cancer cells.

Currently, about 33% of all cancer cases have the same problem where existing treatment methods are not adequately damaging deep-rooted cancer cells.

With the FLASH treatment, it would be possible to target stubborn cancer tumours in the brain or near vital organs without causing much harm to the healthy tissues surrounding them.

The treatment may not make cancer a less dangerous medical condition, but it can help in pushing cancer treatment boundaries allowing for new cures.

Making a FLASH Equipment Compact Is Challenging

The CERN lab is one of the largest particle physics labs in the world for a reason. It has enough space to accommodate particle colliders that are up to 16 miles long. Currently, the CERN Linear Electron Accelerator is powerful enough to deliver effective cancer treatment, but it is 86 meters long.

The challenge here is making a powerful particle accelerator that is small enough for a hospital to accommodate.

Physicists are working with Switzerland’s Lausanne University Hospital, with the financial support of the Biltema Foundation, to create a prototype that would take 10 meters of space. It would keep the construction and power consumption costs down and make it compact enough to fit in a hospital.

According to researchers, the construction of the compact particle accelerator will begin in February 2023, and if everything goes well, patient clinical trials can start in 2025.

What FLASH Treatment Means for Veterans Suffering from Cancer?

For years, United States veterans have suffered from all kinds of cancers due to exposure to toxic chemicals during service. 

The current treatments did not necessarily improve their quality of life, especially after the cancer radiation therapy would damage healthy tissues and lead to side effects such as tiredness, loss of appetite, anemia, and infections, among many others.

The news of particle physics pushing cancer treatment boundaries is a ray of hope for all veterans suffering from particular cancers and hard-to-reach tumours. The treatment has a sparing effect on the healthy tissues without compromising the anti-tumour action on the targeted tumour.

Although the intense FLASH treatment seems promising, it will take years before the medical linear accelerators are available for use at cancer hospitals. 

Contact us to schedule a free consultation if you have cancer due to service-related exposure. You must seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney to help recover compensation under the PACT Act.

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