Radiation therapy is the utilization of radiation in order to treat diseases like cancer as well as to detect other ailments that someone may have. Since the development of radiation therapy many advancements have been made both to the process of using radiation itself, which in turn increased its effectiveness for medical use, and to the study of other possible uses for radiation. The concepts behind radiation therapy are not overly complicated, but they are still revolutionary ideas that have greatly impacted society and people’s wellness.
Development of Radiation Therapy:
The beginnings of radiation therapy were a result of x-rays, first discovered by a German physicist named Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. During experimentation with electricity, he found that certain types of energy were able to pass through his body and produce an image of his skeletal structure. Shortly after Roentgen’s discovery of how to produce x-rays, the medical potential of them was explored and used to diagnose health issues. The use of radiation was taken even further than x-rays by Emil Grubbe, who became the first radiation oncologist. Radiation oncology is the study of the therapeutic benefits of radiation. Grubbe earned this title because he was the first to propose using x-rays as treatment for breast cancer, and his experiment was accompanied by immense success. Many people followed Grubbe’s footsteps and became radiation oncologists. Methods for treatment improved in many areas from things like when dosage should be given, how much should be given per dose, and the ability to pinpoint and attack even the deepest cancerous tumors. After these improvements many radiation oncologists changed their focus to more specific treatments and how they could make radiation therapy most effective against one type of cancer.
More recent advances in radiation therapy include Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT). IMRT allows doctors to focus most of the radiation on the cancerous cells. This means that healthy cells are not being negatively affected so the patient will suffer few minor side effects and, if not successful, a patient can be treated with radiation more than once which raised the cure rate considerably. IGRT is the combination of the imaging device which locates cancerous cells and the treatment device which delivers the radiation. This further improved the accuracy of where to focus the radiation and also compensated for any movements undergone by the cancerous cells. Essentially, if any changes occur in the tumor it will immediately be picked up and the treatment can be altered to better fit the newly changed tumor. IGRT raised the cure rate even more and also lowered the rate of toxicity for patients.
Understanding Radiation Therapy:
The goal of radiation therapy is to send high doses of concentrated radiation to cancerous cells that are dividing abnormally fast. The radiation is meant to disrupt...