Treating Cancer

1951

The world’s first cancer treatment with Cobalt-60 radiation took place in 1951. Known as the ‘cobalt bomb,’ it allowed doctors to treat tumours without damaging the skin. Western University’s Dr. Ivan Smith led the therapy’s development and despite modern advances, the Cobalt-60 unit remains the world’s main radiotherapy machine. Its reliability and cost-effectiveness means it is widely used in developing countries.

The cobalt bomb has doubled the survival rate of early stage cervix cancers from 30 to 60 per cent and benefited an estimated 35 million cancer patients.

Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry: Luminaries

Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the world’s first cancer treatment with Cobalt-60 radiation