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December 4, 1981

Pions, ions, neutrons, protons 'expanding scope of radiotherapy'

JAMA. 1981;246(22):2535-2537. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320220003001

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The use of particle radiotherapy to treat certain types of cancer is adding new muscle to the armamentarium of radiation oncologists.

Investigators looking at the use of such particles as neutrons, protons, helium ions, and negative pi mesons (pions) are reporting not only improved delivery of radiation—and in some cases greatly increased tumor kill—but a significantly lowered incidence of adverse reactions and side effects.

One such investigator, Steven E. Bush, MD, chief of radiation oncology at the University of New Mexico Cancer Research and Treatment Center, Albuquerque, told the 23rd annual meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiologists in Miami Beach that because of the characteristics of the various particles, none are applicable to all cancers and each has its own advantages (and disadvantages) in the treatment of malignant tumors.

Neutrons are significant for their biological advantage, in other words, their increased killing capacity, especially in oxygen-deficient tumor cells,