Video Game Technology Used for Cancer Treatment

When arcade game machines first became popular, who would have thought the developments in technology could lead to faster, more effective cancer treatment? It might have been unimaginable then, but today researchers are leveraging modern video game technology to help medical teams form a plan of action for targeted cancer treatments that could ultimately save lives.

Cambridge Researchers Making Forward Strides

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, researchers at the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratory are revolutionizing particle beam therapy. Particle beam therapy is radiation that is targeted at cancerous tissues, but used in a way to preserve the health of the surrounding, unaffected tissues.

When doctors decide to use particle beam therapy on a patient, it is an involved, extensive planning process. They must calculate how to direct radiation in the best way, so it affects nearby organs and tissues the least, while still attacking the cancer with force. They must decide which angle is correct, along with the intensity and length of the treatment. According to doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, this is a planning process that normally takes up to five days, precious time for a patient awaiting an effective treatment.

Researchers are using video game technology to reduce this planning time and increase the accuracy of medical calculations when it comes to particle beam therapy. Video games use powerful imaging tools that allow the games to run at high frame rates per second.

When this technology is combined with simulations that assess the effects of radiation on a patient’s body, it may reduce the time it takes for doctors to decide on a course of action, since they will have invaluable images and assessments at their fingertips. It is cost-effective and makes an important type of therapy more affordable. It also increases its effectiveness, since patients will be able to be treated faster, with less wait time.

As researchers perfect the technology and present their findings, the future looks brighter. Someday, technology may help cure disease at an astounding rate, and video game technology may play a central role.