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Paradigm Shifts In Cancer Treatment And Research

1875 words - 8 pages

In any field of study there are numerous ways to go about solving a problem. This is especially true for the field of medical practice. Medical practice is just that; it's practice. Every day is another opportunity for medical professionals to practice innovative ways to increase the reliability of treatment or to even find new treatments for diseases. Cancer treatment has been developing dramatically in recent years and this is due to different fields of study using their own unique way of solving the elusive riddle that is cancer. No one field of study is more important than another in the fight against cancer because anything is possible when it comes to medical practice. Each field of study is ultimately trying to reach the same goal and by doing it in different ways makes it that much more likely to be achieved. Valuable treatment alternatives in the fight against cancer have been brought forward through multidisciplinary efforts throughout the fields of studies involving physics, chemistry, and biology.Many people think of cancer treatment as being associated with chemists and biologists but rarely do they consider the physics aspect of cancer treatment. However, physics is just as important, if not more important, than either of the two fields of study. Almost every radiation device, X-ray machine, or any other type of imaging device was developed by a physicist. Without these devices it would be almost impossible to detect cancer, let alone treat it.X-rays were first developed in 1896 by the German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen where "X" stood for an algebraic symbol for an unknown. These X-rays ultimately led to the development of radiation therapy three years later using radium as the X-factor. Eventually these radium based therapies became known to actually cause cancer in surrounding regions while it was treating the initial cancer. This led to the development of other ways to increase the efficiency and safety of radiation therapy by physicists.Conformal proton beam radiation therapy was developed and in this technique beams of proton are used instead of X-rays to treat only the areas that contain the cancerous cells. Physicists discovered that protons are parts of atoms that cause little damage to tissues they pass but are very effective in killing cells at the end of their path. Prostate cancer is an example that uses this type of radiation.Stereotactic radiation therapy is a type of radiation that delivers large precise beams of radiation to small tumors. Physicists developed the machine called the Gamma Knife which delivers these large beams to the tumor without causing surrounding damage. Brain cancer is the only type of cancer that receives this specific type of radiation.Without having the thought process and innovativeness of physicists, cancer treatment and research will be nowhere near where it is today. They looked at cancer in a different light and tackled the problem using powerful machines capable of providing beams...

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