Friday, August 28, 2009

Resource Letter MPRT-1: Medical Physics in Radiation Therapy

When Russ Hobbie and I were preparing the 4th edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology, we tried to update our book with the most recent references. But, inevitably, as time passes the book becomes increasingly out-of-date. How does one keep up with the literature? This blog is meant to help our readers stay current, but sometimes more drastic measures are required. Fortunately, the American Journal of Physics publishes “Resource Letters,” in which the author reviews important sources (mainly textbooks and research articles) on a particular topic. In the September 2009 issue of AJP, Steven Ratliff of Saint Cloud State University published “Resource Letter MPRT-1: Medical Physics in Radiation Therapy” (Volume 77, Pages 774–782, 2009). The abstract is reproduced below.
This resource letter provides a guide to the literature on medical physics in the field of radiation therapy. Journal articles, books, and websites are cited for the following topics: radiological physics, particle accelerators, radiation dose measurements, protocols for radiation dose measurements, radiation shielding and radiation protection, neutron, proton, and heavy-ion therapies, imaging for radiation therapy, brachytherapy, quality assurance, treatment planning, dose calculations, and intensity-modulated and image-guided therapy.
I highly recommend this Resource Letter for anyone interested in radiation therapy. Particularly useful is Ratliff’s concluding section “Recommended Path Through the Literature.”
The best single reference for a newcomer to the field is Goitein (Ref. 14). It is clear, up to date, readable, complete, and gives a good explanation of what medical physicists do. For a person who does not want to enter the field but is just curious or needs to get some information and does not want to spend any money, a good place to start is the free on-line book by Podgorsak (Ref. 153). Van Dyk (Ref. 17) is a good place to start for those who want a clinical emphasis. The book by Turner (Ref. 91) has good problems (some with answers) and covers many aspects of the subject.

For those wanting to make a career of Medical Physics, a small but good starting library would consist of Goitein (Ref. 14), Hendee et al. (Ref. 30), Johns and Cunningham (Ref. 15), Khan (Ref. 16), Podgorsak (Ref. 153), Turner (Ref. 91), and van Dyk (Ref. 17). Khan is more useful once you have learned the material. If you have more money, you could add Attix (Ref. 19) and Podgorsak’s book on radiation physics (Ref. 26). Cember and Johnson (Ref. 92) is a good addition if you are interested in the health-physics aspects of radiotherapy.

If you were restricted to one book and wanted to learn as much as possible, then the handbook of Mayles et al. (Ref. 18) is worthy of serious consideration.
The references Ratliff cites in his conclusion (less than 10% of the 183 publications included in the entire Resource Letter) are listed below.
14. Radiation Oncology—A Physicist's Eye View, Michael Goitein (Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, New York, 2008).

15. The Physics of Radiology, Harold Elford Johns and John Robert Cunningham, 4th ed. (Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois, 1983).

16. The Physics of Radiation Therapy, Faiz M. Khan, 3rd ed. (Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Philadelphia, PA, 2003).

17. The Modern Technology of Radiation Oncology—A Compendium for Medical Physicists and Radiation Oncologists, Vols. 1 and 2, edited by Jacob Van Dyk (Medical Physics, Madison, WI, 1999 and 2005).

18. Handbook of Radiotherapy Physics—Theory and Practice, edited by P. Mayles, A. Nahum, and J. C. Rosenwald (Taylor & Francis, New York, 2007).

19. Introduction to Radiological Physics and Radiation Dosimetry, Frank Herbert Attix (Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany, 1986).

26. Radiation Physics for Medical Physicists, E. B. Podgorsak (Springer-Verlag, New York, 2006).

30. Radiation Therapy Physics, William R. Hendee, Geoffrey S. Ibbott, and Eric G. Hendee, 3rd ed. (Wiley, Hoboken, NJ, 2005).

91. Atoms, Radiation, and Radiation Protection, James E. Turner, 2nd ed. (Wiley, New York, 1995).

92. Introduction to Health Physics, Herman Cember and Thomas E. Johnson, 4th ed. (McGraw-Hill Medical, New York, 2009).

153. Radiation Oncology Physics: A Handbook for Teachers and Students, edited by E. B. Podgorsak (International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, 2005). (
By the way, if you look in the acknowledgments of Ratliff’s publication you will find the ubiquitous Russ Hobbie among those thanked for their helpful suggestions.

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