Global Cancer News

Our milestones: Nudging breast cancer radiotherapy in the right direction

Anne Li

The journey from discovering x-rays to using them to treat cancer was a quick one. It began in the winter of 1895 in a physicist’s lab in central Bavaria, Germany. While he was experimenting with electricity and gases, Professor Wilhelm Röntgen produced what he called ‘a new kind of ray’. Word of the ray travelled quickly, and its use in medicine soon followed. Within 3 years of the discovery, the first documented case of using x-ray radiation against cancer emerged. Researchers from Sweden reported that 6 patients with cancer in the nose and cheek had their tumours destroyed by a single, large dose of x-ray radiation. But that single radiation hit caused severe burns to their skin.

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