Papers And Originals

Treatment of Advanced Tumours of Head and Neck with Fast Neutrons

Br Med J 1974; 3 doi: (Published 20 July 1974) Cite this as: Br Med J 1974;3:137
  1. Mary Catterall,
  2. D. D. Vonberg


    Fast neutrons interact with matter in a different way from x and gamma rays. They have been used at Hammersmith Hospital for the past four years in the treatment of advanced tumours in several sites of the body, and the results of this treatment in the first 100 cases of tumours of the head and neck are described here. Altogether 62 patients who had been referred for fast neutron therapy because it was thought that no other treatment would be effective experienced complete regression of the tumours, and only two recurred. Tumours of the buccal cavity and salivary glands responded particularly well and the relief of pain and ulceration was striking. Side effects were not serious and did not differ from those seen with supervoltage radiation, apart from the reaction of the skin. Follow-up was short, however, owing to deaths from metastases, and out of 76 patients treated more than one year previously only 30 survived. Cases which have not metastasized must therefore be treated so that the effects on tumours and adjacent normal tissues can be observed for several years after treatment. The results obtained so far indicate that it is now justifiable to use neutrons in such cases.