When Exposure is Good: Recent Advances in the Therapeutic Use of Radiation


T. L. Mays, K. L. Classic, R. J. Vetter


From the moment x-rays were discovered, there was an excitement about potential benefits to the field of medicine. Indeed, the discovery has fulfilled expectations, with radiation use permeating into many areas of diagnostic and therapeutic medicine. The increased reliance of the medical community on techniques utilizing radiation did not occur instantaneously. The development of therapeutic uses of radiation, particularly therapy using radiopharmaceuticals and sealed sources, has been a slow process beginning to flourish only in recent years. The first therapeutic uses of radiation early in this century involved the placement of radium in special varnishes, small rubber or paper bags, cardboard or paraffin capsules, and eventually metal tubes and needles. Treatments were limited initially to superficial lesions, but they have evolved to intracavity and interstital therapy. However, some applications that appeared suited for treatment with radionuclides have been forced to wait as decades of research uncovered parameters required for successful implementation. As the century draws to a close, external beam therapy has become a standard technique for a multitude of indications, but radiopharmaceutical therapy has gained acceptance in only a limited number of applications. Ongoing research continues to provide better understanding about the role of radiation in the treatment of disease. It remains to be seen, however, if removing some of the obstacles will open the floodgate to new applications and acceptance for this discipline. Radioimmunotherapy, prostate cancer brachytherapy, and radionuclide treatment of bone metastases and coronary arteries are applications currently experiencing a high rate of growth in clinical medicine.


This abstract was presented at the 32nd Annual Midyear Meeting, "Creation and Future Legacy of Stockpile Stewardship Isotope Production, Applications, and Consumption", Isotope Production, Applications, and Safety Session, 1/24/1999 - 1/27/1999, held in Albuquerque, NM.

Index of Midyear Meeting Abstracts