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June 5, 1926


JAMA. 1926;86(23):1772. doi:10.1001/jama.1926.02670490034017

Remedies are frequently and justifiably employed in medicine before their exact mode of action is understood; but it is profitable and interesting to obtain definite knowledge as soon as possible, so as to regulate their use to the best advantage. Irradiation of tumors cannot be done to the fullest extent and with the most favorable results until its effects on tumor cells, normal tissues, and the body in general are accurately known.

The effects of irradiation on tumor cells have recently been considered in a summary of the subject by Dr. James Ewing.1 Either a shrinking and pyknosis of the nuclei, or swelling from imbibition of fluids, resulting in degeneration or necrosis, are among the first of the occurrences in the tumor cells. Mitosis is stopped for a considerable period, even if the cells recover eventually. The exact physical chemistry of the cellular changes is not yet known, but