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January 5, 1963

Cobalt-60 in Management of Cancer

Author Affiliations


From the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute.

JAMA. 1963;183(1):17-22. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700010057012

Cobalt-60 units supply gamma radiation of two monochromatic wavelengths (1.17 and 1.33 mev), and the soft beta radiation is easily filtered out by approximately 0.16 mm of steel. Such units therefore have made possible the world-wide use of the equivalent of supervoltage roentgentherapy. Patients with some types of cancer formerly unfavorable for radiation treatment now have a better outlook. Palliation of distressing symptoms or prolongation of life by remissions, as in the lymphomas, are easier to achieve with much less discomfort to the patient. Because of the skin-sparing nature of supervoltage radiation, preoperative irradiation can be followed by the classical surgical procedures in cases in which poor results would be expected from either type of therapy alone, and the combined effects are now being investigated in cancer of the lung, urinary bladder, and breast.