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The historical application of mathematics in the natural sciences and in radiotherapy is compared. The various forms or mathematical models and their limitations are discussed. The Linear Quadratic (LQ) model can be modified to include (i) radiobiological parameter changes that occur during fractionated radiotherapy, (ii) situations such as focal forms of radiotherapy, (iii) normal tissue responses, and (iv) to allow for the process of optimization. The inclusion of a variable cell loss factor in the LQ model repopulation term produces a more flexible clonogenic doubling time, which can simulate the phenomenon of 'accelerated repopulation'. Differential calculus can be applied to the LQ model after elimination of the fraction number integers. The optimum dose per fraction (maximum cell kill relative to a given normal tissue fractionation sensitivity) is then estimated from the clonogen doubling times and the radiosensitivity parameters (or α/β ratios). Economic treatment optimization is described. Tumour volume studies during or following teletherapy are used to optimize brachytherapy. The radiation responses of both individual tumours and tumour populations (by random sampling 'MonteCarlo' techniques from statistical ranges of radiobiological and physical parameters) can be estimated. Computerized preclinical trials can be used to guide choice of dose fractionation scheduling in clinical trials. The potential impact of gene and other biological therapies on the results of radical radiotherapy are testable. New and experimentally testable hypotheses are generated from limited clinical data by exploratory modelling exercises.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Oncologica

Publication Date





883 - 893