Stanford doctors target cancer with precision radiation

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- For millions of cancer patients, radiation therapy is a life-saver. Now doctors at Stanford are combining an amazing technology, to make it faster and more precise than ever before.

Roy Ozaki, 86, spent his career in the tech industry. Now he's hoping a cutting edge medical technology can home in and destroy the cancer attacking his pancreas.

"I was hoping that, because I would watch the progress of lots of technological things on T.V," Mr. Ozaki recalls.

Dr. Albert Koong, M.D. and his team at Stanford began plotting out a radiation treatment, using an incredibly precise targeting technology. It combines C/T imaging with powerful 3D software. The result is a virtual duplicate of Roy's organs, viewable from any direction.

"And in this 3D model we can simulate how the radiation beam is going to enter into the tumor," explains Dr. Koong.

But then, he says the system adds a fourth dimension. Beyond calculating angles of delivery and doses of radiation, doctors are also able to compensate for another variable, Roy's own breathing.

"So as the diaphragm comes up and down, it also pushes the pancreatic tumor up and down. So with this kind of technique we can compensate for the movement of a tumor in the course of normal breathing," says Dr. Koong.

Before the procedure begins technicians calibrate the housing that will deliver the radiation from multiple angles. Dr. Koong says in years past, higher levels of radiation could spilled over into the surround tissues.

"So we can bring in a higher dose to the tumor and spare more of the surrounding tissues," he says.

The increased dosage also allows doctors at Stanford to treat Roy in about five sessions instead of 25 to 30, saving him weeks of treatment time.

Written and produced by Tim Didion.
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