Paradigm Shifts in Cancer Treatment and Research

Essay by jsteimlCollege, UndergraduateA+, September 2009

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In any field of study there are numerous ways to go about solving a problem. This is especially true for the field of medical practice. Medical practice is just that; it's practice. Every day is another opportunity for medical professionals to practice innovative ways to increase the reliability of treatment or to even find new treatments for diseases. Cancer treatment has been developing dramatically in recent years and this is due to different fields of study using their own unique way of solving the elusive riddle that is cancer. No one field of study is more important than another in the fight against cancer because anything is possible when it comes to medical practice. Each field of study is ultimately trying to reach the same goal and by doing it in different ways makes it that much more likely to be achieved. Valuable treatment alternatives in the fight against cancer have been brought forward through multidisciplinary efforts throughout the fields of studies involving physics, chemistry, and biology.

Many people think of cancer treatment as being associated with chemists and biologists but rarely do they consider the physics aspect of cancer treatment. However, physics is just as important, if not more important, than either of the two fields of study. Almost every radiation device, X-ray machine, or any other type of imaging device was developed by a physicist. Without these devices it would be almost impossible to detect cancer, let alone treat it.

X-rays were first developed in 1896 by the German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen where "X" stood for an algebraic symbol for an unknown. These X-rays ultimately led to the development of radiation therapy three years later using radium as the X-factor. Eventually these radium based therapies became known to actually cause cancer in surrounding regions while it was...