1970-2000 The largest separate unit

Learning through trial and error

Radiation therapy was used in cancer treatment in Finland for the first time in 1903. In the beginning there was not enough knowledge about the effects of radiotherapy, and therefore harmful side effects were common. It was understood that X-radiation was one of the factors causing cancer, which is the reason why only malignant cancer diseases were treated with radiotherapy. Radiation therapy administered with X-ray beams was very superficial, because only superficial tumors could be treated. Initially radiotherapy progress came about through trial and error. The benefits of fractionated radiotherapy were gradually understood. Fractionation is the practice of administering radiation in small doses, which ideally destroys diseased tissue while allowing normal tissue to recover.

The first Finnish radiotherapy institute was founded in Helsinki in 1936. Patients living in the current Pirkanmaa region went to Helsinki to receive radiation therapy in the beginning. Radiotherapy started to become available from the 1940s onwards both in the General Public Hospital and in private radiotherapy institutes. The Pirkanmaa Cancer Society initiated the building of a Radiotherapy Home in 1959 in the neighborhood of the future central hospital, where cancer patients could reside while receiving treatment. The Radiotherapy Home did not have radiotherapy equipment proper. Treatments were administered in town hospitals.