1960s radiobiology

Treatment of malignant diseases

In treating malignant diseases both the primary tumour and metastatic disease need to be addressed. DW Smithers from the Royal Marsden took the prevention and control of metastases as the topic for his 1962 Mackenzie Davidson Memorial Lecture (Smithers BJR 1962; 35(417): 581-588). Views about cancer were changing and old attitudes were passing away. Smithers thought that neoplasia is not a specific disease of cells at all but was a gradual failure of tissue organisation inherent in all complex organisms, and even having certain advantages in the evolution of mankind. Smithers thoughts are worth reading. Medical radiation biology was reviewed by L Révész from Sweden in January 1968 (Révész BJR 1968; 41 (481): 12-19) and considered the relative values of basic research against the applied science.

Solitary removal of metastases in lungs

Image source: Smithers BJR 1962; 35(417): 581-588

The  effect of age 

An interesting series of papers appeared in January 1962 looking at the effect of age on radiosensitivity. There had previously been little information on this topic. Patricia Lindop and Joseph Rotblat from St Bartholomew’s Hospital (Lindop and Rotblat BJR 1962; 35(409): 23-31) showed significant differences when mice of different ages were irradiated. Richard Doll then reviewed the human data on the effect of age on carcinogenesis (Doll BJR 1962; 35(409): 31-36). Finally Robert Tudway looked at the tolerance to radiation at different ages of patients (Tudway BJR 1962; 35 (409): 36-42).

Radiation differences in different age groups

Image source: Tudway BJR 1962; 35 (409): 36-42

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