Jim Davidson: Radiation

June 22, 2011 | Leigh MacMillan

Jim Davidson, Ph.D., 68, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Vanderbilt, talked to a couple of friends and colleagues after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. One had radiation therapy in the 1970s; the other had surgery about 15 years ago.

Jim Davidson, Ph.D.“So from my huge statistical sampling of two, I had a sense of radiation and surgery,” he jokes.

A familiarity with radiation in his professional career made Davidson more comfortable with the idea of radiation therapy, he believes. And he was particularly impressed with IMRT – Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy – a technology that delivers pulsed beams of radiation with great precision.

The precision came from three rice-sized gold particles (called fiducials) that were inserted into the prostate. These acted as “little GPS satellites” – they were detected by CT-scan and used to accurately position the prostate for each of his 44 treatments at Vanderbilt-Ingram.

“There may not be any silver bullets for prostate cancer, but there are gold fiducials,” he laughs.

His advice: “Get the good advice of good doctors. Get regular check-ups, and if anything indicates you should have a biopsy, it’s no big deal. Who likes people doing that to your you-know-what, but it’s really just a little bit of discomfort for a little bit of time.”

Photo by John Russell

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