New device safer way to treat cancer


Two professors from the University of Toledo have invented a safer way to treat prostate cancer.

They’ve created a device that would allow doctors to use stronger radiation on the affected area. Not only helping get rid of the cancer faster, but also making sure the surrounding healthy tissue isn’t damaged.

“Everybody is excited for this device to come out and hopefully it will really create a revolution in the field of radiation oncology when it comes to treatment of pelvic tumors,” University of Toledo professor of radiation oncology Dr. Ishmael Parsai said.

Experts say it’s a problem that has been well-known in the medical industry for years: patients with prostate cancer suffering from rectal problems after radiation treatment.

“That can cause a lot of damage to the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor and if we can move the healthy tissue away that is really a major, major achievement,” Dr. Parsai said.

That’s where the retractor would come in. Dr. Parsai and Dr. Mohammad Elahinia collaborated on the device that moves the rectal wall 1.5 centimeters away from the prostate during treatment.

“Nationwide and internationally it is a very common toxicity of prostate cancer as far as having some late rectal toxicity, people can get proctitis so some late irritation of the rectum and bleeding of the rectum,” University of Toledo associate professor of radiation oncology Dr. Krishna Reddy said.

The device is made of nitinol, a shape-memory alloy that can be inflated and deflated in seconds after being inserted. It’s a material that Dr. Elahinia had experience working with as the chair of the mechanical engineering department at UT.

“Engineers are problem solvers so there are various domains that we can focus on but because we have such a strong medical school and access to facilities and experts it’s a natural way for us to expand our applications to medicine,” Dr. Elahinia said. 

The group was awarded $150,000 from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission to develop and test the prototype. So far they’ve done a number of cadaver tests and plan to use the device on patients in the near future.

“I’m hoping, time-wise, it’s really difficult to put timing on this kind of thing because it needs to get FDA approval, but I’m hoping within a year-and-a-half or so this device should be available to anyone in the market,” Dr. Parsai said.

Doctors say the device can also be used on women for cervical cancer and other pelvic tumors.

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