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August 19, 1939


JAMA. 1939;113(8):664-667. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800330030008

In spite of increasing knowledge and improved technic in the use of roentgen rays, radiation sickness continues to be a major problem for those who are using high voltage therapy. With the addition of nausea and vomiting to the discomfort of those already suffering from cancer, it is not surprising that some patients prefer to discontinue their treatment rather than suffer this additional distress. The problem became manifest as soon as roentgen therapy was introduced and immediately various investigators attempted to find the cause and to formulate a treatment.

In 1907 Edsall and Pemberton1 declared that the vomiting was toxic in origin, owing to products of decomposition from tissue destruction. Pfahler,2 on the other hand, blamed gases produced by the spark of the machines and to some extent was supported by Friedman and Drinker,3 who measured the ions and gases in treatment rooms and found that positive