Cutting it Both Ways - Ionizing Radiation and Cancer

Cutting it Both Ways - Ionizing Radiation and Cancer

Prof. John Kildea (Medical Physics at McGill U.)

Mar. 2, 2017 19:00


Radiation therapy uses targeted ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA and arresting their rapid growth. It is a safe and effective form of treatment for some cancer types that may be used alone or in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy and other treatment modalities. Worldwide, about 50% of cancer patients receive radiation therapy as part of the cancer treatment.

However, ionizing radiation is not all good. It is a well-known carcinogenic agent with an unwelcome ability to spread fear and panic. It cannot be seen or smelt and at low levels it may cause cancer or it may not. The uncertainty only adds to the fear.

This talk will present the good and the bad aspects of radiation and its relationship with cancer. It will describe how radiation therapy has advanced over the last century and how our understanding of radiation carcinogenesis has improved but is still lacking.