Improvements

Improvements

Targeted beams of high-intensity radiation can shrink early-stage tumors with limited collateral damage to surrounding healthy tissue. The addition of robotics and image guidance systems in recent years has made these stereotactic, or directed beam, radiosurgery systems an even more versatile weapon against cancer, attacking not only brain tumors (for which they were originally designed) but also other diseases virtually anywhere in the body.
Researchers have begun pushing the technology to the next step by increasing beam accuracy so that physicians can safely administer higher doses of radiation to cancerous cells, making radiosurgery a viable alternative to conventional surgery in more cases. Such accuracy would prohibit radiation overdose, which has serious consequences—an errant high-power beam passing through healthy tissue and organs could cause severe damage, and even cause a fatal shut down, as a January article in The New York Times illustrated.

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