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Radiation oncology: a century of achievements

Abstract

Over the twentieth century the discipline of radiation oncology has developed from an experimental application of X-rays to a highly sophisticated treatment of cancer. Experts from many disciplines — chiefly clinicians, physicists and biologists — have contributed to these advances. Whereas the emphasis in the past was on refining techniques to ensure the accurate delivery of radiation, the future of radiation oncology lies in exploiting the genetics or the microenvironment of the tumour to turn cancer from an acute disease to a chronic disease that can be treated effectively with radiation.

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Figure 1: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845–1923).
Figure 2: The first illustration of the effect of the duration of Röntgen therapy (now called X-rays) on normal tissues.
Figure 3: Graph to show the therapeutic index with respect to cumulative dose.
Figure 4: Imaging and treatment planning

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Correspondence to Jacques Bernier.

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breast cancer

cervical cancer

endometrial cancer

head and neck cancer

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Bernier, J., Hall, E. & Giaccia, A. Radiation oncology: a century of achievements. Nat Rev Cancer 4, 737–747 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc1451

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