A University of Wollongong researcher has created a ‘magic plate’ to more safely, and effectively, deliver radiation to cancer patients.
Ziyad Alrowaili has spent the past three years developing the radiation detector to enable medical physicists to more precisely calculate the amount of radiation each patient requires.
Radiation destroys cancer tissue but too much can also harm healthy tissue and lead to side effects like fatigue, skin irritation, hair loss and nausea. However not enough radiation will lessen the likelihood of killing the tumour and can mean cancer cells will continue to grow.
Fifty-two per cent of cancer patients benefit from radiation, so it’s important to ensure they receive the precise dosage.
Mr Alrowaili said while modern radiotherapy techniques were able to more accurately pinpoint the exact location of tumours, calculating the correct dosage was still a complex task.
‘’At the moment it’s a very intensive task which adds to a significant workload for clinical and medical physicists,’’ he said.
‘’Before a patient receives their treatment, physicists use a plastic dummy to verify whether the equipment is delivering the correct radiation dose.
‘’The magic plate we have developed at the Centre for Medical Radiation Physics allows physicists to measure the radiation dose during the patient’s treatment which is safer and more effective.’’
The ‘magic plate’ consists of more than 100 silicon sensors which sit in the radiation path and detect the intensity of the radiation beams.
Mr Alrowaili has developed an algorithm which then calculates the radiation dose reaching the patient, which can be checked against their prescribed dose.
‘’Fifty-two per cent of cancer patients benefit from radiation, so it’s important to ensure they receive the precise dosage,’’ he said.
Mr Alrowaili’s work benefits from decades of research at the UOW centre led by Distinguished Professor Anatoly Rozenfeld.
He’s now working with Dr Martin Carolan, of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, on further testing to adapt the plate for clinical use.
‘’There are many layers of safeguards already in place to reduce the risk to the patient, but the concept of measuring the radiation dose distribution every day as it is delivered to the patient is elegant and appealing,” Dr Carolan said.