This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The world’s first cancer treatment with Cobalt-60 radiation took place at Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, 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.