The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Fighting Cancer with Protons

By using protons instead of X-rays, a new generation of CT scanners could help target tumors better

3 min read

This year in the United States, 6000 cancer patients—among them, those that suffer from pediatric, brain, and prostate cancer—will receive a new kind of treatment that irradiates tumors with a beam of protons rather than X-rays. New research suggests that those same protons could also provide more-accurate imaging and targeting of a patient’s tumor than the X-ray CT scans used today. Proton imaging would also drastically reduce a patient’s overall radiation exposure.

By using protons instead of photons, doctors can more easily kill cancer cells without also irradiating healthy cells around the tumor, says Sameer Keole, a radiation oncologist at the ProCure Proton Therapy Center, in Oklahoma City. He cites industry estimates that 240 000 cancer patients out of the more than 800 000 treated every year with X-rays would benefit from proton therapy. After his experience with proton therapy, he says he’s also ”bullish” about the prospects of new proton-imaging technologies.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

Keep Reading ↓Show less