Ciencia Colombia , Bogotá D.C., Martes, 15 de diciembre de 2015 a las 10:48

Algebra improves prostate cancer treatment

A mathematical model helps specify radiotherapy dosage treatment as well as avoid secondary effects by predicting organ (seminal vesicles, prostate, rectum and bladder) movement

UN/DICYT “One of the most common forms of prostate cancer treatment, if not in metastasis stage yet, is radiotherapy, which consists of taking a picture of the organs involved, outlining them and proposing a dosage,” said Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Medellín and Université de Rennes 1 Energy System Engineering doctoral student Richard Ríos Patiño.


However, this photograph method is not accurate enough with regards to organ distribution as they naturally move. Therefore, foreseeing this scenario Ríos’ proposal is focused on predicting how these organs, especially the bladder move.


“According to the position of the bladder in the body and taking into account that it only moves in certain directions in which it deforms we identified these movements and tried to predict them”, said Rios who is also a member of the UNAL Automatic Group (GAUNAL, for its Spanish acronym) and the Université de Rennes LTSI Laboratory.


Based on this model he identified the uncertainties produced by the movement of the bladder during treatment which affects the radiating dosage.


To reach a result, the method used was linear algebra which helps breaking down a matrix in three parts known as machine learning.


Therefore Ríos mixed several variants and information such as dosage, organs, movement and toxicity which he included into a mathematical model with which he reduced the uncertainty regarding movement involved in prostate cancer.


The researcher says that one of the reasons organs move is because patients drink water, making the bladder and rectum fill and move other organs against each other.


This situation makes the initial planned radiotherapy ineffective as when it is carried out it radiates both healthy and unhealthy cells, therefore increasing the probability of developing secondary effects or lose control over the tumor.


For instance, the bladder increases urinary frequency which may affect the quality of life of the person.


Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers impacting men around the world. Estimates say that one out of every seven men suffer from prostate cancer. In Colombia the mortality rate for prostate cancer is close to 3% of the impacted population.