1990s radiobiology

Optimisation of radiotherapy

Wheldon and Barrett discussed in February 1990 (Wheldon and Barrett BJR 1990; 63(746): 114-119) a radiobiological rationale for compensating for gaps in radiotherapy regimes. 

In April 1990 RG Dale wrote about small fraction numbers in gynaecological afterloading (Dale BJR 1990; 63(748): 290-294). It had been a key recommendation of the ICRU Report 38 in 1985 that in reporting brachytherapy treatment that a complete description of the doses and dose time patterns was needed and not just the total dose received.


Risks of ionising radiation

In March 1990 (Richardson BJR 1990; 63(748): 235-245) RB Richardson wrote a more valuable review of the risks of cancers being caused by irradiation and the influence that new understanding had on defining dose limits. The review had been prepared for the Radiation Physics and Dosimetry Sub-Committee of the BIR. The historical studies and concepts were reviewed and the radiation burn that Henri Becquerel received in 1901 by carrying a glass-tube containing 200mg of radium in his vest pocket was described. The influence of acceptability and cost on dose limits is discussed and the influence of the new Japanese bombing data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Natural radiation should not be forgotten and these risks were also reviewed.  

Again, whilst CT scanning provides valuable diagnostic information there is a significant exposure to ionizing radiation and organ doses and dose equivalent were investigated by K Nishizawa and others in January 1991 (Nishizawa, Maruyama, Takayama, Okada, Jun-ichi Hachiya  and Furuya BJR 1991; 64(757): 20-28).

Roger Berry (Berry BJR 1992; 65(769): 1-8) from British Nuclear Fuels plc (and previously from the Middlesex Hospital) gave the 1991 Silvanus Thompson Memorial Lecture. He spoke on the need to strike a balance between the benefit and risk of man’s exposure to man-made radiations. The topic is relevant today and as Roger Berry says “All energy production is associated with risk, but the absence of energy is associated with a greater risk.”

Radiation accidents 1945-89

Image source: Berry BJR 1992; 65(769): 1-8)

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