GPUs Improve Cancer Patient Care


Medical physicists at UT Southwestern Medical Centers are using video game processors to improve cancer patient care. Thanks to the growing video game market, processors are becoming much more powerful and it’s caught the attention of medical researchers.

Video game processors, or GPUs, have become a part of Dr. Steve Jiang’s research, who is UT Southwestern’s new Director of the Division of Medical Physics and Engineering, and Professor and Vice Chairman of Radiation Oncology. He hopes to utilize processors for medical use, specifically for cancer patients. He states that one of the practical uses is reducing the time to calculate the radiation dosage delivered to a cancer tumor. Faster processors can tackle the complex equations, reducing calculation time from 70 hours to 10 seconds.

““That’s an astonishing improvement in processing speed,” Dr. Jiang said. “We should really thank video gamers. The popularity of video games has resulted in a tool that is very beneficial for scientific computing in medicine. The quicker results mean increased convenience for patients and physicians, and translate in a significant way to better patient care,”

Radiation treatment can take weeks, where the patient’s tumor and anatomy could change. The reduction in calculation time allows for more accurate daily treatments that will take in the changes of a patient’s weight, healthy tissue, and the shape and size of the tumor. It also allows doctors to make calculations before each treatment instead of rifling through old data and make calculations that are more exact.

Doctors are hopeful that these faster GPUs will allow patient treatment to be taken care of effectively and immediately. It is due to the high consumer demand in the video game industry that has allowed these faster and cheaper processors to be produced. So who knows what other helpful and incredible advances will be made through the video game industry? The Occulus Rift and other virtual reality simulations help train our pilots and offer bedridden patients a glimpse in the outside world.