Robert Abbe: early American brachytherapist

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Radiation Oncology



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Brachytherapy; History, 20th Century; Humans; Neoplasms; Radiation Oncology; Radium; United States


Neoplasms | Oncology


PURPOSE: To assess Robert Abbe's career and contributions to brachytherapy, in the context of the work of contemporary European and American investigators.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Examination of his lectures and journal articles, as well as contemporaneous newspaper accounts, textbooks, and archival material.

RESULTS: Although not the first American to apply radium therapeutically, Robert Abbe was among the earliest to acquire and systematically use a clinically significant quantity. He replicated early European experimental and clinical work, and published a large series of cases treated with generally favorable results. Abbe was the first American to emphasize the role of radiobiology in optimizing therapeutic ratio. His eloquence and stature helped legitimize the new therapeutic modality.

CONCLUSIONS: Robert Abbe was probably the nation's most influential early brachytherapist. rights reserved.

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Citation: Brachytherapy. 2012 Nov-Dec;11(6):421-8. doi: 10.1016/j.brachy.2012.04.010. Epub 2012 Jul 6.Link to article on publisher's site

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