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January 4, 1964


JAMA. 1964;187(1):56-57. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060140062020

Interest in heavy high energy radiation particles for clinical use began soon after atomic accelerators became a reality. Electromagnetic waves, the medical ancestors of atomic particles, have been used extensively by physicians who have implemented diagnosis and radiotherapy of neoplasms by means of gamma rays and x-rays. In both particle and wave forms, radiation affects living tissue mainly through interaction with the electrons of atoms, producing ionization and free radicals. Biological damage from radiation is determined by the total energy absorbed per unit mass of tissue and, more specifically, by the ion density in the track of radiation. Low voltage roentgen rays have the disadvantage, when the neoplasm to be treated is at some depth from the surface of the body, of having their energy absorbed exponentially and rapidly, whereas high voltage roentgen rays are more satisfactory, since they have increased penetrating ability with maximum specific ionization at a greater

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