Guided technology reaches hard-to-treat cancers

Technology is improving precision when it comes to treating tumors, especially in sensitive areas like the abdomen.

Specialists at The Miami Cancer Institute, which is part of Baptist Health South Florida, are increasingly using magnetic resonance imaging to guide radiation therapy and actually see it reach its target.

“So as patients breathe the tumors move up and down left and right and we can see that every single second of treatment and not only see that but we can actually account for that and modify the treatment to account for that so that treatment is safe and it is effective,” said Dr. Michael D. Chuong, the medical director of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Miami Cancer Institute.

Chuong said the technology is beneficial for inoperable or hard-to-reach tumors in organs like the pancreas.

Sleep disturbances

In other health news, some encouraging data from a study by researchers at the University of Florida.

They found the use of medication to treat sleep disturbances has fallen dramatically in the U.S. after several decades of climbing steeply.

The study documented a 31% decline in the use of common sleep medications between 2013 and 2018.

Most notably, the researchers found an 86% decrease among Americans over the age of 80.

Older Americans are most susceptible to falls leading to injury while using sleep medications.

Since the study covered a five-year period ending in 2018, researchers say it’s unclear how the pandemic may have impacted this trend.

Nicotine patches

And nicotine patches may do more than help people quit smoking, they could also help improve memory and function in people with mild cognitive decline.

That’s the focus of a study underway at two sites here in South Florida.

While many people associate nicotine with cigarettes and the accompanying negative health effects of smoking, it has actually been safely used in research for more than 30 years.

Researchers are recruiting study participants aged 55 and older.

For more information, visit the Mind Study page.

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