Adrian C. Begg, PhD
Division of Biological Stress Response, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
There are continued attempts to improve the treatment of cancer in new ways, including development of novel molecularly targeted drugs, drug targeting approaches, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy and more. While many of these appear promising, most await thorough testing in clinical trials and many are designed for use as adjuvant therapies. Almost all patients are therefore currently treated by one or more of the three main proven modalities namely surgery, radiation and conventional chemotherapy. Of these, surgery and radiation are effective as single modalities on a variety of tumors, while current chemotherapy is mainly employed in an adjuvant setting. Radiation therapy is employed in around half of all cancer patients. It is therefore welcome and timely that the Department of Radiology and Medical Physic from Granada’s University organized a course on radiobiology related to radiotherapy for cancer.
This book covers that course on radiation biology held in Granada, Spain in 2011. The course provided important information to radiation oncologists an others working with radiation therapy. While many technical innovations have lead to improvements in treatment with radiation in recent years, knowledge of how normal and cancer cells respond to radiation has also progressed rapidly.
Such knowledge of the biology of cancer and the response of both cancer and the response of both cancer and normal tissues to radiation is crucial in leading to further improvements in cure rates with radiotherapy. This course was therefore especially welcome in providing comprehensive information on the biology and radiobiology of cancer. It consisted of 25 talks covering subjects beginning with the basic aspects of how radiation damages cells, up to an overview of the place of radiotherapy in cancer treatment. It included discussions of the molecular, cellular and tissue responses to radiation, the factors contributing to therapy resistance of some tumors, and how, why and under what circumstances radiation is combined with chemotherapy. It is hoped that this will stimulate radiation oncologists and radiation biologists alike in their clinical and laboratory studies to continue to strive to find ways to improvement radiotherapy.