Science News for Students: New Ultrasound Treatment Kills Off Cancer Cells

It spares healthy cells while taking out cancerous ones.

Cancer cells divide over and over, allowing them to grow rapidly — and spread. A new ultrasound treatment targets its cell-killing energy on these cells, sparing healthy ones.

Article includes Power Words

amplitude: A measure of the height of a recurring wave in some signal, water or beam of radiation. In sound, wave amplitude corresponds with intensity — loudness or softness.

cancer: Any of more than 100 different diseases, each characterized by the rapid, uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The development and growth of cancers, also known as malignancies, can lead to tumors, pain and death.

cell: The smallest structural and functional unit of an organism. Typically too small to see with the unaided eye, it consists of a watery fluid surrounded by a membrane or wall. Depending on their size, animals are made of anywhere from thousands to trillions of cells.

chemical: A substance formed from two or more atoms that unite (bond) in a fixed proportion and structure. For example, water is a chemical made when two hydrogen atoms bond to one oxygen atom. Its chemical formula is H2O. Chemical also can be an adjective to describe properties of materials that are the result of various reactions between different compounds.

computer model: A program that runs on a computer that creates a model, or simulation, of a real-world feature, phenomenon or event.

development: (in engineering) The growth or change of something from an idea to a prototype.

engineer: A person who uses science to solve problems. As a verb, to engineer means to design a device, material or process that will solve some problem or unmet need.

focus: (in physics) The point at which rays (of light or heat for example) converge sometimes with the aid of a lens.

frequency: The number of times some periodic phenomenon occurs within a specified time interval. (In physics) The number of wavelengths that occurs over a particular interval of time.

hertz: The frequency with which something (such as a wavelength) occurs, measured in the number of times the cycle repeats per second of time.

immune: (adj.) Having to do with the immunity. (v.) Able to ward off a particular infection. Alternatively, this term can be used to mean an organism shows no impacts from exposure to a particular poison or process. More generally, the term may signal that something cannot be hurt by a particular drug, disease or chemical.

millisecond: A thousandth of a second.

nucleus: Plural is nuclei. (in biology) A dense structure present in many cells. Typically, a single rounded structure encased within a membrane, the nucleus contains the genetic information.

oscillate: (n. oscillation) To swing back and forth with a steady, uninterrupted rhythm.

physics: The scientific study of the nature and properties of matter and energy. Classical physics is an explanation of the nature and properties of matter and energy that relies on descriptions such as Newton’s laws of motion. A scientist who works in such areas is known as a physicist.

pressure: Force applied uniformly over a surface, measured as force per unit of area.

radiation: (in physics) One of the three major ways that energy is transferred. In radiation, electromagnetic waves carry energy from one place to another. Radiation can transfer energy across empty space.

sound wave: A wave that transmits sound. Sound waves have alternating swaths of high and low pressure.

suspension: (in chemistry) A mixture in which particles are dispersed throughout the bulk of a fluid.

therapy: (adj. therapeutic) Treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder.

tissue: Made of cells, it is any of the distinct types of materials that make up animals, plants or fungi. Cells within a tissue work as a unit to perform a particular function in living organisms. Different organs of the human body, for instance, often are made from many different types of tissues.

toxic: Poisonous or able to harm or kill cells, tissues or whole organisms. The measure of risk posed by such a poison is its toxicity.

tumor: A mass of cells characterized by atypical and often uncontrolled growth. Benign tumors will not spread; they just grow and cause problems if they press against or tighten around healthy tissue. Malignant tumors will ultimately shed cells that can seed the body with new tumors. Malignant tumors are also known as cancers.

ultrasound: (adj. ultrasonic) Sounds at frequencies above the range that can be detected by the human ear. Also the name given to a medical procedure that uses ultrasound to “see” within the body.

unique: Something that is unlike anything else; the only one of its kind.

vibrate: To rhythmically shake or to move continuously and rapidly back and forth.

wave: A disturbance or variation that travels through space and matter in a regular, oscillating fashion


Science Topics
Health & Medicine
K-6, Middle School
4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade

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