Students, Professor Find Novel Way to Improve Cancer Treatment by Using Amazon.com Resources
University of New Mexico (05/12/10) Wentworth, Karen
University of New Mexico (UNM) computer scientists used computer time purchased from Amazon.com as an inexpensive way to complete the complex calculations needed to map radiation treatments. Precise calculations that target tumors with as little damage to surrounding healthy tissue can take hundreds of hours of processing time to determine where every proton and electron from the treatment beam is most likely to go. It is expensive for clinics to buy and maintain sophisticated computers to perform the calculations. However, the UNM researchers have found that clinics could buy the computer time from Amazon at 10 cents an hour to perform the calculations. The researchers reduced the calculations into pieces so they could use 200 computer nodes to run them. If the system works in practice the way the researchers envision, patients should have fewer side effects from radiation treatments, physicians should be able to treat cancer more effectively, and overall costs should be reduced.