Radiation Therapy of Benign Diseases: A Clinical Guide

The radiation therapist's primary concern is the treatment of patients with malignant dis- ease. However, there are definite indications for radiation treatment for benign diseases that do not respond to conventional methods of treatment. It may be the treatment of choice in the unusual instance of a life-threatening benign disease that cannot be surgi- cally or medically managed. The present volume by Order and Donaldson represents a major statement on the uti- lization of radiation techniques in the management of benign disease. The initial report of the Committee on Radiation Treatment of Benign Disease from the Bureau of Radiological Health recommended that consideration be given to the quality of radiation, the total dose, overall time, underlying organs at risk and shielding factors before the institution of radiation therapy. Infants and children should be treated with ionizing radiation only in very exceptional cases and after careful evaluation of the potential risk compared with the expected benefit. Direct irradiation of the skin areas overlying organs that are particularly prone to late effects such as the thyroid, eye, go- nads, bone marrow, and breast should be avoided. Meticulous radiation protection tech- niques should be used in all instances and the depth of penetration of the x-ray beam should be chosen in accordance with depth of the pathologic process'.