Kerst developed the betatron which accelerates electrons to high energy .It open a new radiation therapy era-the supervoltage or megavoltage era.Another development in the radiation therapy is the application of man made radioactive source .
One of the radioactive sources:
Cobalt 60: it emits penetrating gamma rays of about 1.25 Mev energy.60Co units (also called cobalt teletherapy and cobalt bomb units)
-The high energy gamma rays emitted by 60Co are absorbed by tissue and produce high energy electrons .- Most of electrons move in the same direction as the original beam .- As the gamma ray beam penetrates the first few mm beneath the skin ,the no. of electrons increases and the energy deposited by them increases.- The dose maximum occurs about 5 mm below the skin .-The relatively low dose at the skin from high energy x-rays of gamma rays is referred to as the skin –sparing effect.-The radiation from 60Co teletherapy unit is emitted continuously ,the unit is turned on by rotating the source wheel until the source is over the beam port in the large lead shield .It is turn off by rotating the source wheel until the source shielded by the wheel fig (1).
Mega voltage therapy has three major advantages :
- The maximum dose occurs below the skin and the skin sparing effect greatly reduces the pain from the treatment.- The high energy is almost completely in the Compton effect region and doses not give a large doses to the bone .- The greater penetrating ability permits better treatment of tumors deep inside the body.