Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, a German physicist, discovered X-rays in 1886, and the use of low-voltage, radio X-ray machines to treat cancer began soon after. Outside of the medical profession, radiation therapy is perhaps the least understood intervention, although it has existed for more than a century and is widely used. About half of all cancer patients will receive radiation therapy at some point during their treatment, often as part of potentially curative therapy, and the rest to slow the progression of the disease or to alleviate symptoms. David Khan of El Segundo, California Radiation therapy planning and administration is a complex process, based on high-tech software and hardware, involving a wide range of personnel, e.
Due to the synergy between different approaches to cancer treatment, the field of radiation therapy has benefited from increased knowledge about cancer biology and immunology. Radiation treatments usually use an X-ray beam that penetrates the body in a similar way as diagnostic x-rays do, but radiation therapy uses high-energy x-ray beams that are directed from many different angles to focus on the area that needs to be treated. In the past, before imaging technologies provided doctors with accurate information about the location of the tumor, radiation therapists could only make rough approximations of where to focus their beams. Doctors have found that, when properly administered, radiation can stimulate the immune system and, therefore, increase the destruction of tumor cells in areas of the body that have not been irradiated.
As a young resident in radiation oncology, working at the Greater Poland Cancer Center, I am proud to have the opportunity to write an article on new perspectives and challenges in radiation oncology. The WCO center has two radiotherapy departments and is famous for its use of radiation therapy and brachytherapy, which involves the application of modern ionizing radiation technologies for medical purposes. There is also a growing area of research on how radiation affects DNA with precision, and on how to design ways to manipulate that response. A high enough dose of radiation can kill virtually any cell, so high doses can damage normal cells and organs.
Establishing MDM at the Greater Poland Cancer Centre is a valuable educational opportunity for medical students, oncology trainees and other healthcare professionals, while attending MDMs counteracts the unidisciplinary approach of most postgraduate oncology curricula.