News and Events

Exciting New Research at Rambam: Will the Israeli Start-Up Nation Change the Way We Treat Skin Cancer?

Publication Date: 8/6/2020 10:00 AM

A comprehensive research study in the Department of Radiology at Rambam Health Care Campus may lead to shorter cancer treatment times.

Alpha DaRT technology in action. Photography: Taken from Alpha Tau’s promotional company video.Alpha DaRT technology in action. Photography: Taken from Alpha Tau’s promotional company video.

More than 11,000 Israelis are diagnosed each year with various types of skin cancer, including melanoma. In addition to raising awareness of the importance of early diagnosis, the medical world is aggressively exploring new, more effective treatments. Recently, Rambam Health Care Campus began implementing a groundbreaking procedure for the treatment of various types of skin cancer and cancers of the mouth. This innovative treatment is available to those participating in a comprehensive study currently taking place in Rambam's Department of Radiology.

"The Alpha DaRT technology—developed by Israeli company Alpha Tau—uses alpha radiation to treat solid tumors, and is considered to be safe and highly effective," explains Dr. Tomer Charas, Attending Physician at Rambam's Oncology Section, and also an Attending Physician in the Radiation Therapy Unit, who is leading the study. "The new technology allows the use of powerful radiation in a concentrated manner, enabling the tumor to be destroyed without penetrating and damaging the surrounding tissue. Based on the experience we have acquired using the Alpha DaRT technology, we have seen excellent results with few side-effects," says Dr. Charas.

The innovative treatment is performed by implanting a small number of needles containing tiny amounts of radioactive material either directly into the tumor or adjacent to it. The treatment lasts approximately one hour, is performed under local anesthetic, and is done only once.

"The majority of oncology patients require repeated radiation treatments," declares Dr. Salem Billan, Attending Physician, Oncology Section, and Director of the Radiation Unit at Rambam. "The use of alpha radiation results in greater destruction of cancerous cells, and the one-time implant frees the patient from the necessity of undergoing lengthy and repeated visits for radiation therapy."

The implanted needles are removed at the end of the treatment period, which lasts for about two weeks. A small scar remains in the region of the implants, but will heal over time.

The use of Alpha DaRT technology has been demonstrated to be effective and safe in both completed and ongoing research studies in leading centers in Israel and around the world. Rambam plans to become a national treatment center, and in the future, it is anticipated that the Alpha DaRT technology will also be used for the treatment of prostate cancer.

"In every step that we take, we want to ensure that the cancer treatment is effective in terms of the patient outcome," explained Dr. Charas. "The new treatment significantly reduces side-effects to a minimum. The standard radiation treatment time is also reduced from months to a brief, one-time visit. The results are impressive both from the perspective of treating the tumor and the appearance and function of the surrounding tissue, including the most sensitive tissue such as the cheek, the tongue, the scalp, lips, and the skin of the face," said Dr. Charas. "This is a revolutionary change in treatment."

For more information, visit the AlphaTAU website.