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And more on boron!

In case our filler last month on boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) piqued your curiosity, here is some more on this high tech approach to dealing with some of the deadlier cancers.

About 20 percent of naturally occurring boron is made up of boron 10, a nonradioactive isotope of the boron atom. Alone, boron 10 has no effect when introduced into cancer cells through a highly complex technique involving chemical "guided missiles." However, when a beam of low-energy neutrons is then directed at the cells, the boron 10 "captures" the neutrons and converts them into high-energy particles. This form of radiation is lethal to the cancer cells.

Although some forms of cancer can be cured by today's standard treatments-surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy-there are many other kinds of cancer that do not respond successfully. Unless every cancer cell is destroyed, there is always the possibility that the disease will recur. These standard treatments often wreak so much havoc on normal cells in the process of attacking cancer cells that complete eradication of the cancer cells may not be possible. The appeal of BNCT is that the radiation produced within the cancer cells themselves does very little damage to surrounding normal tissue.

Although the BNCT concept may sound simple, its technical aspects are formidable, and scientists have only achieved limited success thus far. Nonetheless, cures have been realized in a few patients with glioblastomas, the most deadly of brain tumors, and with malignant melanomas that have not responded to other forms of treatment. Scientists around the world who are working on the problem are greatly encouraged by the results.
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Title Annotation:boron neutron capture therapy
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Aug 1, 1991
Words:268
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