Adaptive radiation: CT-imaging meets AI for more personalized cancer treatment

6abc Digital Staff Image
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Adaptive radiation: CT-imaging meets A-I for more personal treatment
Fox Chase Cancer Center's Ethos Adaptive Radiation is being used for prostate, pancreatic, liver, and some head and neck cancers.

Radiation was the first treatment for cancer, dating back to the 1890s.

And it's still an essential element in most treatment plans.

Now CT-imaging combined with artificial intelligence for radiation that accommodates changes in the body.

For decades, the standard approach has been to do one planning session before radiation treatment starts.

"Each day, we'll make sure they're in the right position, and we treat, but the treatment plan doesn't change," says Dr. Eric Horwitz, Chair, Radiation Oncology of Fox Chase Cancer Center.

But Dr. Horwitz says the cancer can change.

"Sometimes, you'll absolutely see the tumor shrink up, it changes shape. Sometimes it's subtle, sometimes it's quite dramatic over a period of time," he says.

A patient's anatomy can also vary slightly day-to-day.

To better target the cancer, Fox Chase now has the Ethos Adaptive Radiation system.

Ethos not only has a device to deliver the radiation, but also CT-scan-based technology, and artificial intelligence.

Those enable the machine to use up-to-date information on cancer and the patient's anatomy to personalize treatment every day.

"We're actually re-planning the person each day to take into account what's in front of us," notes Dr. Horwitz.

Adaptive Radiation is being used for prostate, pancreatic, liver, and some head and neck cancers.

It's also being used where cancer has spread to a small lymph node or small area of bone.

"It's most useful for the situations where we're giving people big doses of radiation in fewer treatments," he says.

Because it's so precise, adaptive radiation enables higher doses to the cancer, with less risk of hurting healthy organs.

"Your lung, your spinal cord, your airway, your bladder, your rectum, your small bowel - very sensitive, very important structures," he notes.

Dr. Horwitz sees Ethos as both a revolutionary treatment now, and a stepping stone for the future.

"Now that we have this technology, we can then utilize it in clinical trials to come up with better treatments," he says.

Fox Chase already has some clinical trials going with more to come this summer.