The Relative Rôles of Radium and Roentgen Rays in the Treatment of Carcinoma of the Uterine Cervix

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In order to appreciate the relative rôles of radium and roentgen rays in the treatment of carcinoma of the cervix, the biologic reactions of tissues to the rays and also the physical properties of each type of radiation must be taken into consideration. From the standpoint of therapeutics, roentgen and radium rays in equal intensities produce the same biologic reactions and have the same physical properties. It has not yet been proved that there is any difference in biologic reactions between the two which might be dependent upon the quality of the rays (i.e., wave length) that cannot be explained on a purely physical basis. Really the only difference is that radium may be applied directly to neoplasms as a point source of radiation within the tumor or organ, while the roentgen rays must be directed from an external source and cover a larger field. Each, therefore, has its individual limitations and indications.

The biologic reactions which are produced by irradiation of neoplastic or normal tissues depend upon the intensity of the radiation with the added factor of the period of time over which irradiation takes place. The factor of time is important both from a clinical and physical standpoint; for example, small amounts of radium or roentgen rays over a long period do not have identical physical or biological effects as a large amount in a short time, and the histologic changes seen in the irradiated tissues are not the same under these two circumstances.

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