Radiation is a century-old tool in fighting cancer. In recent years, scientists have sharpened its focus, to attack tumors without damaging the body around it.
In this week's Moves in Medicine, we explore a new type delivered right in the body.
The first time Dr. Fernando Hoyos had an abdominal tumor, he received standard radiation - every day for more than five weeks.
"He was very, very tired," recalls his wife Julietta.
When another tumor developed, that radiation wasn't an option.
"The body's normal tissues have certain sensitivities to radiation, and we frequently use up that tolerance that we have the first time," says radiation oncologist Dr. Joshua Meyer of Fox Chase Cancer Center.
The tumor's location posed another obstacle.
"The small bowel, the large bowel, and even the liver vessels," were all around, says oncologist Dr. Krisha Howell.
Chemotherapy wasn't a viable option, either.
"It's not as focused in the specific area where the tumor is," says Dr. Meyer.
That all made Dr. Hoyos a good candidate for a new treatment Fox Chase Cancer Center - the CivaSheet.
It's a thin, flexible silicone sheet with tiny radiation dots embedded into it.
"This radiation is directional, meaning it goes in one direction and really doesn't go in the other direction," says Dr. Meyer.
"It's keeping any part of the body that's near the gold safe," he adds.
CivaSheet goes in after a tumor is surgically removed, can be molded to the exact size and shape needed.
And it stays there.
"Half of its dose is delivered or given in about 17 days," says Dr. Howell.
But only inside the patient.
"By the time you get to the outside the body, there's nothing," says Dr. Meyer.
Dr. Hoyos and his wife were amazed at the experience with Civasheet.
"This time, it was so different," says Juliettta Hoyos. "He got out of the hospital in five days."
"I feel very good, I am very happy," the doctor adds.
Doctors at Fox Chase say CivaSheet helps them treat more patients than in the past.
And they're leading a study on its use for some pancreatic cancer patients.
For information on that, visit Clinicaltrials.gov.
CivaSheet offers doctors a new weapon in cancer fight