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  • Explain the concept of radiotherapy and list typical doses for cancer therapy.

Therapeutic applications of ionizing radiation, called radiation therapy or radiotherapy    , have existed since the discovery of x-rays and nuclear radioactivity. Today, radiotherapy is used almost exclusively for cancer therapy, where it saves thousands of lives and improves the quality of life and longevity of many it cannot save. Radiotherapy may be used alone or in combination with surgery and chemotherapy (drug treatment) depending on the type of cancer and the response of the patient. A careful examination of all available data has established that radiotherapy’s beneficial effects far outweigh its long-term risks.

Medical application

The earliest uses of ionizing radiation on humans were mostly harmful, with many at the level of snake oil as seen in [link] . Radium-doped cosmetics that glowed in the dark were used around the time of World War I. As recently as the 1950s, radon mine tours were promoted as healthful and rejuvenating—those who toured were exposed but gained no benefits. Radium salts were sold as health elixirs for many years. The gruesome death of a wealthy industrialist, who became psychologically addicted to the brew, alerted the unsuspecting to the dangers of radium salt elixirs. Most abuses finally ended after the legislation in the 1950s.

The image shows an old advertisement of radium material branded as UNDARK with the tagline “Shines in the Dark.”
The properties of radiation were once touted for far more than its modern use in cancer therapy. Until 1932, radium was advertised for a variety of uses, often with tragic results. (credit: Struthious Bandersnatch.)

Radiotherapy is effective against cancer because cancer cells reproduce rapidly and, consequently, are more sensitive to radiation. The central problem in radiotherapy is to make the dose for cancer cells as high as possible while limiting the dose for normal cells. The ratio of abnormal cells killed to normal cells killed is called the therapeutic ratio    , and all radiotherapy techniques are designed to enhance this ratio. Radiation can be concentrated in cancerous tissue by a number of techniques. One of the most prevalent techniques for well-defined tumors is a geometric technique shown in [link] . A narrow beam of radiation is passed through the patient from a variety of directions with a common crossing point in the tumor. This concentrates the dose in the tumor while spreading it out over a large volume of normal tissue. The external radiation can be x-rays, 60 Co  γ rays, or ionizing-particle beams produced by accelerators. Accelerator-produced beams of neutrons, π-mesons , and heavy ions such as nitrogen nuclei have been employed, and these can be quite effective. These particles have larger QFs or RBEs and sometimes can be better localized, producing a greater therapeutic ratio. But accelerator radiotherapy is much more expensive and less frequently employed than other forms.

The image shows a man lying on a flat surface. A gamma ray machine is rotated around the man.
The 60 Co source of γ -radiation is rotated around the patient so that the common crossing point is in the tumor, concentrating the dose there. This geometric technique works for well-defined tumors.

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Physics for the modern world. OpenStax CNX. Sep 16, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11865/1.3
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