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X-ray of radium needles in breast cancer treatment

X-ray of radium needles in breast cancer treatment

N800/0051

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Radium therapy. Chest X-ray of a woman with breast cancer receiving radiotherapy from implanted radium needles in 1929. Her ribs are visible as grey bands. In this technique around 40 needles (black) were placed into the cancerous areas of the breast. Each needle emitted radiation into the surrounding tissue, giving a total dose of over 16,000 milligram-hours of radium. The small grey circles are identification beads attached to the needles by thread. In radiotherapy, ionising radiation is targeted on or placed in cancerous tissue, destroying the cells or stopping further cancer development. Radium was discovered by the French scientists Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898.

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