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Home » Using Sound Waves To Destroy Cancer: Christine Gibbons (Transcript)

Using Sound Waves To Destroy Cancer: Christine Gibbons (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Christine Gibbons’ talk titled “Using Sound Waves To Destroy Cancer” at TEDxDetroit 2017 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


Good morning. By show of hands, which I can’t really see, how many out there have seen Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home? Okay. Well, I’m sure you recall that the crew time-travels back to 1986 San Francisco, and in this scene here, Dr. McCoy has to rescue Chekov from the barbaric medicine of the 20th century. Well, I’m here today to talk to you about another person that’s wrestling with and struggling with current modern day medicine.

Her name is Sue. Sue is a seamstress in Barcelona. She lives outside of the city and takes the train to work. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have three children.

Sue’s Diagnosis

Apparently Sue has been having abdominal pains, bouts of nausea and vomiting, and so she went to her doctor. He ran a battery of tests, did an MRI, and she got that dreaded phone call, the diagnosis was cancer, liver cancer. And so she met with her oncologist and a surgeon, and they reviewed her case. More bad news.

The tumor was too large to be surgically resected, which meant the chances of long-term survival were greatly diminished. Also, the tumor was located in a place that made it difficult for this type of therapy, where large gauge needles are poked through the abdomen to the tumor, and the heat then kills the tumor. It was too close to a vein. So her doctor recommended chemotherapy.

Now Sue knew that chemotherapy would likely not cure her, but it would most certainly make her feel miserable for months to come. I’d now like to take you to the future, where Sue has the potential to be offered a therapy that uses sound energy rather than heat or incision or chemo to cure her. And so, talking about then, ultrasound.

Ultrasound Technology

Ultrasound has been used for many years for imaging, but researchers have been trying ways to use ultrasound to create heat to destroy tissues non-invasively. So Charles Kane from the University of Michigan was taking a different path. He was using, wanted to use the sound energy to create mechanical forces, not heat, to destroy tissue.

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