Physical and Chemical Causes

  • Kenneth C. Calman
  • John Paul


Ever since Friebin in 1902 reported the occurrence of an epidermoid carcinoma on the hand of a radiologist, it has been appreciated that certain radiations can cause cancers. In the early days of x-rays, radiologists often adjusted their equipment with their hands exposed to the beam. Surgeons even operated for foreign bodies under the x-ray machine. As a result, within fifteen years of Röntgen’s discovery (by 1911) over 90 cases of skin cancer in radiologists, surgeons and radiation technicians had been reported. Most of these were squamous carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas but there were also some fibrosarcomas. Subsequently, other episodes reinforced this evidence that x-rays cause cancer. Some have already been discussed in chapter 3, including the occurrence of cancer of the lung in miners working with radioactive ores, of osteosarcomas in women painting clock faces with a radioactive paint and, of course, the aftermath of the atomic bombs. The clinical observations in humans have been reinforced by experimental observations in cultured cells and in animals, from which it appears that radiations can produce almost any kind of tumour.


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Copyright information

© Kenneth C. Calman and John Paul 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth C. Calman
    • 1
  • John Paul
    • 2
  1. 1.Cancer Research CampaignThe University of GlasgowScotland
  2. 2.Beatson Institute for Cancer ResearchGlasgowScotland

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