Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Missile detection technology may provide the future treatment of choice for breast cancer. Alan J. Fenn of MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory developed the system as a phased-array radar antenna to foil enemy jamming. Searching for other applications when military funding dried up, Fenn stumbled onto the possibility of using his creation’s precisely controlled emissions of microwave energy to treat cancer. Earlier attempts to use microwaves to kill cancer cells failed because of the difficulty in focusing the energy to destroy deep-seated tumors without burning surrounding tissue. Fenn’s anti-jamming algorithm precisely shapes the microwave beam to do just that. After giving patients a local anesthetic, doctors insert two needle probes into the tumor to measure temperature and microwave energy levels. They then heat the tumor to about 45 C for 20 minutes. Patients can go home with a couple of Band-Aids.

In early trials, a single microwave treatment shrunk tumors by half within 10 days-a result that requires months of chemotherapy or radiation. Celsion, of Columbia, Md., has licensed the technology and hopes to adapt it to treat tumors in the prostate, lung, liver and pancreas as well.

1 comment. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Biomedicine

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me