The contest between internal and external-beam dosimetry: The Zeno's paradox of Achilles and the tortoise

Francesco Cicone, Katarina Sjögreen Gleisner, Anna Sarnelli, Luca Indovina, Jonathan Gear, Silvano Gnesin, Françoise Kraeber-Bodéré, Angelika Bischof Delaloye, Vincenzo Valentini, Marta Cremonesi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Radionuclide therapy, also called molecular radiotherapy (MRT), has come of age, with several novel radiopharmaceuticals being approved for clinical use or under development in the last decade. External beam radiotherapy (EBRT) is a well-established treatment modality, with about half of all oncologic patients expected to receive at least one external radiation treatment over their disease course. The efficacy and the toxicity of both types of treatment rely on the interaction of radiation with biological tissues. Dosimetry played a fundamental role in the scientific and technological evolution of EBRT, and absorbed doses to the target and to the organs at risk are calculated on a routine basis. In contrast, in MRT the usefulness of internal dosimetry has long been questioned, and a structured path to include absorbed dose calculation is missing. However, following a similar route of development as EBRT, MRT treatments could probably be optimized in a significant proportion of patients, likely based on dosimetry and radiobiology. In the present paper we describe the differences and the similarities between internal and external-beam dosimetry in the context of radiation treatments, and we retrace the main stages of their development over the last decades.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103188
JournalPhysica Medica
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging

Free keywords

  • External-beam dosimetry
  • External-beam radiation therapy
  • Internal dosimetry
  • Molecular radiotherapy
  • Radionuclide therapy


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