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    Norman is a lanky boy of 13 who has been playing basketball this season at Madisonville (Ky.) Junior High, and hopes to play football next fall. Two years ago, despite surgery and X rays, Norman was wasting away with a spreading cancer of the thyroid. Then his doctor got him into the little (30-bed) hospital at Oak Ridge, Tenn., which is set aside for atomic medicine. There, Norman had an "atomic cocktail"—radioactive sodium iodide dissolved in water. The cancer colonies soaked up the iodine; from each radioactive atom, beta particles and gamma rays shot out to destroy cancerous cells. Norman goes back to Oak Ridge regularly for checkups, and sometimes he gets another radioactive drink. He eats well and has gained 30 pounds.

    Doctors cannot be sure how much they have done for Norman Bennett and others in his plight. They will not talk about a "cure," or even a "fiveyear cure" or a "ten-year cure." But they are confident that they have done a lot of good.

    The benefits of radio-iodine extend to patients with chronic, congestive heart disease and angina pectoris. If, as is common in such cases, the healthy thyroid's activity is too high for a damaged heart, then a dose of iodine-131 can be used instead of the surgeon's knife to reduce the gland. Two-thirds of the heart cripples so treated at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital show worthwhile improvement, and half of these are so much better that they can lead nearly normal lives. Equally gratifying, the treatment releases many patients from the agonizing "tight" pains of angina.

    A Shot of Phosphorus. After iodine, radioactive phosphorus is the isotope which has proved most useful in treatment. It seems to be as effective as any other means of combating two kinds of chronic leukemia (lymphatic and myeloid), and it is more convenient than others. It is useless against the acute leukemias of childhood.

    Ten years ago a San Francisco shipping executive heard the bad news from his doctors: he had chronic lymphatic leukemia. X-ray treatment might have slowed down the disease enough to give the patient ten or even 20 years of useful life, but doctors have done the job more easily with an occasional injection of colorless fluid containing phosphorus-32.

    The shipping man has his blood count checked regularly. About once a year the count shows that he needs another shot of atomic medicine. When he goes to a Gulf port on business, a local doctor watches his blood counts and reports back to San Francisco. If the white-cell count begins to go up ominously, there is still plenty of time for a dose of radiophosphorus to be flown to the Gulf Coast. The shipping man drives himself hard and feels fine.

    If radiophosphorus is good for these leukemias, in which the white cells become predominant, it is even better for polycythemia vera, in which the red cells get too numerous. This is because the radioactive atoms act on the bone marrow, where both types of blood cells are made. If either red or white cells are increasing too fast, the radioactivity cuts down their birth rate. For simple polycythemia (uncomplicated by disease of the heart or lungs), radioactive phosphorus is the best medication known today. Some patients are still getting along well 15 years after beginning this treatment, and their number is growing daily.

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