MADRID--If you could know the consequences of a medical procedure before receiving it, would it change your mind? What if technology made the procedure more accurate? There's no doubt that radiation therapy can be, at times, life-saving, while very life-draining. The first of its kind in the world, a new simulator can evaluate and predict the specific reactions a patient could have, and then it can guide decision-making for surgical intervention and radiation treatments.
Last week, Madrid's hospital of Gregorio Maranon was the first to receive an international patent in the area of intraoperative radiation therapy. More than 70 patients at the hospital's Department of Oncology and Experimental Medicine and Surgery have been evaluated using the new technology. This patent covers a combination of simulator, browser and dosimetric planner, which measures the recommended dosage of radiation.
This process increases the level of precision in eradicating tumors, which protects more healthy tissue in the surrounding area. This accuracy also minimizes the surgical area and reduces the duration of surgery and recovery time. According to the press release, in the early stages of breast cancer radiotherapy treatment, recovery from conventional treatment can last six to eight weeks; recovery from intraoperative radiation therapy can last a mere 24 hours.
All of these benefits, of course, also increase the patient's quality of life, which gives them a better shot at fighting the cancer.
SmartPlanet spoke with Jessica, a Madrileña who opted last year to avoid most modern medical procedures to treat her symptoms--extremely high platelet count and extremely low iron--that may or may not be cancer. "I rather like going the organic, non-modern medicine route," Jessica said. However, she said that proven accuracy would make her more likely to utilize modern medicine with the Spanish socialized healthcare system.
Jessica was highly impressed by the simulator's technology and the possibility of its applications in other areas of medicine. "It is incredible. It can give peace of mind to some people that would be excellent candidates for treatment, but are terrified of the risks, and it can also begin to lower the number of cases where treatment is not a success," she said. Also, Jessica sees the benefit in the opposite way, which could deter patients from undergoing procedures with potentially very negative outcomes. "If someone will have an unfavorable outcome, it is possible to be saved from the pain and experience of traditional treatment."
The Hospital of Gregorio Maranon is the leader in radiotherapy during surgeries in Europe, having worked with over a thousand cases over the last 15 years. It is certainly an expert and revolutionizer in this field. With the patent in place, surely other surgery centers in Europe and around the world will begin to apply this technology.
Once again, science and technology evolves patient care.
Video and Photo provided by The Community of Madrid. The video is currently only available in Spanish, but, even without a translator, viewers can catch a glimpse of the simulated images doctors can now use.