oa South African Medical Journal - The present status of radio-therapy and the radio-isotopes in the treatment of cancer*

Volume 23, Issue 28
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



*This paper was read at a plenary session of the South African Medical Congress at Pretoria, July 1948. In spite of enormous advances made in radiation therapy and in the development of apparatus in the 53 years which have elapsed since Roentgen's discovery of X-rays, the cancer death rate has continued to rise and has almost doubled itself in the same period. The rise in the death rate is due to some extent to the improvement in the treatment of other conditions with better surgery and chemotherapy. Nevertheless, the advances in radiation therapy have not apparently helped to keep the death rate in check. It is true that without radiation therapy the increase in death rate might have been still higher. The total cancer death rate is now close on 14%. One out of every 10 physicians in the U.S.A. died of cancer last year. Even in children the death rate from cancer is unexpectedly high. Under five years of age there are more deaths from cancer than from infantile paralysis or from acute nephritis or from all diseases of the ear and mastoid lumped together. Although cancer is a relatively uncommon disease, yet when it does occur it is too frequently fatal, and only heart disease kills more than cancer.

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