13-Yr-Old Indian American’s New Tool to Treat Pancreatic Cancer

13-year-old Rishab Jain’s algorithm could change the way doctors target pancreas while treating cancer

2 min read

A 13-year-old Indian American’s invention could change the way doctors treat pancreatic cancer. Rishab Jain from Portland, US, won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge last month for coming up with an algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to help doctors target pancreas during cancer treatment, reports TIME.

Pancreatic cancer is particularly hard to treat and is often discovered at a later stage, with a survival rate of less than 7 percent.


What makes Rishab’s algorithm so important is that pancreas are difficult to spot as they move around. Currently doctors target radiation in the area they believe pancreas are, in the process also killing other healthy cells.

In a quote to TIME, Rishab said,

In the radiotherapy treatment where radiation is applied to kill tumor cells, my tool tracks the pancreas in the scan itself. When the radiation hits, it hits the pancreas accurately and efficiently so it can help treat the tumor much more effectively.

Rishab believes his algorithm can be incorporated in hospital’s existing radiography equipment and he is currently working with doctors from top institutes to push out the project.

Pancreatic cancer is the 13th most common cancer worldwide, according to a Lancet study from October 2015. With an unusually high mortality rate, it is the eight most common cause of death from cancer. Over a quarter million people worldwide have lost their lives to it.

What makes pancreatic cancer so deadly is the lack of symptoms during early stages when it is most treatable, reports CNN.

Experts say, there are no screening tools specific to this kind of cancer. As a result, in many cases, the discovery of the disease gets delayed. The detection is often confined to distinct symptoms like abdominal pain and jaundice.

Dr Shubham Pant, Associate Professor of Medical Oncology at Houston, Texas, explains the disease in the video below.

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