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Radium Therapy

cells, tumors, growth, tumor, malignant, disease, types, effect, diseased and healthy

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RADIUM THERAPY. Twenty years after Madame Curie announced the discovery of radium, and 15 years of experience with its use in treatment of diseased conditions, is long enough to give some idea of its usefulness and its limitations. Radium came into use as •a sur gical agent some five years after the discovery and similar application of the X-ray. The latter had already demonstrated its efficiency in curing some, and ameliorating other types. of malignant disease, and it was at once snrreised that radium might have similar effective force, inasmtieh as its output of peculiar energy was not unlike that from X-ray tubes. Exaggerated hopes and claims' for both have been modified with time, and one can now estimate somewhat the worth of both. The limits of Its useful ness have not yet been reached,—not only in the field of malignant disease but is other types of non-malignant tumors and sldn diseases.

Everyone who aspires to the use of ratium efficiently must have some fundamental knowl edge of its effect on the vital growth of living, healthy cells. Without such intelligent under standing, one is not prepared to ask what hap pens in treating diseased cells. A series of simple experiments with garden seeds or bulbs will demonstrate convincingly the retarding effect on cell growth after exposure to radium, For example, if strong radium be placed an inch distant from any seed chosen, before planting, for from two to eight hours, these, after plant ing, will grow in sae and vigor exactly in pro portion to the time of exposure,— the longest treated may be killed, the shortest may be scarcely retarded, the middle series will grow half the normal height.

This gives the due to the results seen in tumors. It is admitted that cell growth, whether vfgetable or animal, is actuated by the same vital force. Tumors are merely the massive and exaggerated growth of cells, which are found normally at the site of the tumor. The popular expectation that large, tumors can be easily removed by radium is not borne out by facts; but early treatment of small growths of typi cally malignant cells is suctesiful in every-4.y practice, because, at that stage, there has been no wide dissemination of the ,disease. When the magnitude of the growth is too large for radium then surgery can remove it by knife or caustic, which only serves to emphasize the wonder of radium work, which can so, alter wrong grbwIng cells as to restore them to healthy action when small, without removing them as caustics, cautery and the knife do.

There are types of low-grade, malignant tumors which uniformly cure themselves after proper doses of radium therapy, and there are also other grave forms which yield to radium. Starting from and among the marrow cells of the bones, proceeding by absorption and destruction of the bone, if not arrested, the so-called myeloid tumors, wonderful to relate, distitalear under radium treatment and new bone re-forms in the one that disappeared: In 'one patient under the writer's care a part of the bone of the lower jaw was entirely re placed by a tumor the size of a small hen's egg. When the radium had altered the cells they melted away, the bone was perfectly re stored and has remained sound and well for 15 years. Again, tumors of lymph glands are

well controlled by radium and often cured un less they be tubercular. The disease of all the 1paph gland. system, known as Hodgkins' is well treated by •radium as it is also by the X-ray.

It is among the wonders of modern surgery to witness the disappearance of tumors which have overgrown parts of the body, like the eye-lid or lip, and to watch, the complete res toration of the original part. So completely does this illustrate the unique and subtle power of radium, that one example' may be citedi A tumor had on the lower as to' destroy all semblance • of more than half of it A . fortunate use of the exact amount of radium necessary caused the disap. penance of 'the tumor and perfect restoration of the eye-lid within eight weeks. For l•yeare afterward- it was inipossible to say on which lid the tumor had been.' This tells the story of the specific effect on disordered cells called tumors; where the healthy part was engulfed and lost in a malignant growth, whose wrong growing cells, being weaker, melted away under radium 'rays, and allowed a reassembling of the original healthy ones. and restoration of the eyelid under its beefing-action. • This 'selective action against diseased- tissue is an. accepted facts alongside of 'that, however, is the• discovery that many kinds' of 'cells have such different degrees of resistance that only a few types of tumor yield to radium. The popular cry for a' cancer cure is not met by any claim that its most ardent advocates can make for radium. This is not because the eariy growth of cancer.oelis is not controlled by radium, but because•by the time the neg lected trouble is brought to the notice of• the surgeon, the system has.' been invaded beyond the reach of any remedy.' Methods of Applying Radium.— Very highly condensed' radium' salts' in the' form of carbonate, chloride, 'sulphate or 'bromide are incorporated with ovirnish.end spread on metal surfaces of small sire,-:--•taff an inch or one inch in diameter---or better still, fused with powdered glass in an indestructible enamel on a small metal surface; or the radium powder may be put in very fine glass tubes an inch' long and as large as a steel knitting-needle; or, if dissolted in water, it will yield radium emana tion which may be collected and condensed Into glass ''capillary tubes scarcely larger than a pin,. which, when protected by a delicate case, may be buried in tumors or laid upott the surface. Again, the minutest solution of aunt in sterile water may be injected beneath the skin with a 'hypodermic •needle and a sys temic effect can be produced,-.(lowering' of blood pressure, etc.) ; but the efficacy of this in any disease is, as yet, very problematical. Of late, also, there has been an attempt made to isolate the beta rays from radium, sarated in large quantity in the magnetic field and projected upon diseased surfaces (psoriasis, etc.), with striking alterative The beta ray has been demonstrated to be theefficient factor in radium work. All methods; however, of using this extraordinary agent are still subject to change.

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