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Sound waves could ‘burn away’ cancer pain

23 January 2015

Sound waves could ‘burn away’ cancer pain

Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust are testing whether ultrasound therapy can relieve pain in patients whose cancers have spread to the bone.

The technique focuses ultrasound beams onto the surface of the bone to produce heat and ‘burn away’ the source of pain. The technology is coupled with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guidance to identify, target and track treatment in real time. The first five patients have already been treated in the clinical trial, with reductions in the pain they were experiencing from bone tumours.

The technology could provide a non-invasive way of controlling pain for patients where radiotherapy is no longer an option, or where other treatments have been unable to control the disease.

Study co-leader Professor Gail ter Harr, Professor of Therapeutic Ultrasound at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “Focused ultrasound is an exciting potential cancer treatment because of its ability to target tumours precisely. The point onto which the ultrasound beam is focused gets very hot, but the surrounding tissue is left unharmed.” 

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