Applied Radiobiology: Continuous Irradiation and Brachytherapy

Author:  David Wigg
ISBN:  9781930524392
Published:  2008 | 288 pp.  | Hardcover



Australasian Physical & Engineering Sciences in Medicine  |  Vol. 31, Number 4, 2008

Forwards by Jack Fowler and Bleddyn Jones

"Continuous irradiation has been practiced for more than a century. Recently, there has been a surge of interest in its use, partly driven by improvements of brachytherapy equipment. It is therefore important to understand the radiobiological basis of continuous irradiation in its various forms, which is the purpose of this book." -David Wigg, Preface

Having read David Wigg's previous book on biological modelling for clinical radiotherapy, it was with great excitement that this second text book arrived on my desk to review. In particular, I was hoping for enlightenment on the radiobiology of low dose rate brachytherapy permanent implants. Something sadly requiring a major update in my current student lecture series notes. I was not disappointed.

This book is an absolute treasure trove of information. It starts with an introduction to basic radiobiology of continuous irradiation (chapter 1) and discusses therapeutic gain models (chapter 2). Then ("yes!") permanent seed implants (chapter 3) including discussion of effective treatment time, repopulation factor and the potential radiobiological differences between using 125 I, 103 Pd and 131Cs seeds. This will become required reading for my students!

The following chapters then follow: Properties of small-volume tumours and subclinical disease (chapter 4), dose and dose-volume in-homogeneities (chapter 5) and tissue architecture and its effect on NTCP and tumour response (chapter 6). Then 3-D volume effects (chapter 7).

The text book comes with a CD containing software which can be loaded onto your computer. Chapter 8 outlines "Guidelines to the use of the models on the CD". The software consists of series of graphs displaying results from radiobiology models that have been written in Mathcad software by Alan Boldock (Bold Enterprises PTY LTD). For each model the user is provided with a set of default parameters, each of which may be changed. The reader can explore the impact of each parameter change as the program replots the graph. There are several useful sub-routines including the calculation of BED for permanent implants and various EUD, TCP and NTCP calculations using different models.

One of the best features of this text is that it starts with the basics in the early chapters, so it fits the bill as an ideal foundation text book for students just acquiring the skills of basic radiobiology. It then builds to an extremely advanced level in later chapters. The text and in particular the software is therefore also very useful for more experienced students in radiobiology. Some of the equations in the appendix are so long as to require publishing in "landscape" format so it is just as well that these equations are coded for easy application in the CD.

Medical Physics Publishing ( has done a wonderful job of reproducing complex tables, graphs and equations in this text book. The cover, technical editing, tables and figures are all of exquisite quality.

The author has written the text in plain concise English that leads the reader to easily understand the concepts being presented. Included are some beautiful asides to explain concepts, they include a weather map showing Australia and New Zealand, and a deep chasm in the south pole, but you will need to read the book to find out how this all fits together.

Peter Metcalfe

Centre for Medical Radiation Physics, University of Wollongong

NSW, Australia