A Brief History of Particle Radiotherapy

Timothy D. Malouff, Christopher Serago, Daniel M. Trifiletti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Corresponding to the increase in usage of radiation therapy over the past century, there have been a multitude of technological advances aimed at improving the “therapeutic window” of radiotherapy, whereby the efficacy of treatment is maximized and the toxicity is minimized, leading to the development of high-energy accelerators and techniques such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy. In his innovative paper published in 1946, Dr. Robert R. Wilson proposed the use of accelerated protons, and heavy ions, for oncologic treatment in humans. The first patient treated with proton therapy was a patient with widely metastatic breast cancer who underwent pituitary irradiation, mirroring earlier experiments with pituitary irradiation in a dog model. Following the success of his early manuscript, Wilson would later hypothesize that carbon ion radiotherapy was superior to proton radiotherapy. Goldhaber and Taylor described the reaction underlying boron neutron capture therapy, where boron is irradiated with a neutron and produces an alpha particle and lithiumion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrinciples and Practice of Particle Therapy
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781119707530
ISBN (Print)9781119707516
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • carbon ion radiotherapy
  • heavy ions
  • intensity-modulated radiation therapy
  • proton radiothsserapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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