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Medical and Pediatric Oncology 34:85–86 (2000)
OBITUARY
Arthur Edward Jones, MD, FRCP, FRCS, FRCR, DMRT, HonFACR
P.N. Plowman,
MA, MD, FRCP, FRCR*
With the death of Arthur Jones at age 80, the world of
radiotherapy has lost one of the true pioneers and great
names of the early years of megavoltage radiotherapy.
In 1912, Neville Finzi became director of radiotherapy
at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. Finzi was a pioneer of
radium therapy and he foresaw advantages if the gamma
rays of radium could be simulated by X radiation of
comparable energy, the implication of this of course being megavoltage radiotherapy. In December, 1933, Finzi
delivered the Mackenzie-Davidson lecture to the British
Institute of Radiology on “Xray and radium therapy in
the future.” He came down firmly in favour of X radiation of wavelengths similar to that of radium: “. . . it
seems likely that the future will depend on the ability of
Fig. 1. Professor Arthur E. Jones.
© 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
the manufacturers to construct a tube working at 1–1.2
million volts, and if the earth tube of the Metropolitan
Vikers can be constructed to work up to these voltages, it
seems to possess insuperable advantages.” This lecture
stimulated Mrs. Meyer Sassoon to underwrite the costs of
developing and installing such a machine and led to the
opening of the megavoltage unit at St. Bartholomew’s
(Bart’s) Hosp. This was on December 10, 1936, in the
presence of a distinguished assembly including Lord
Rutherford [1]. The feasibility of megavoltage radiotherapy had also been researched in the United States [2].
The Lauritsen multisection tube at Pasadena had
achieved 1 MV and the Coolidge cascade tube at New
York Memorial Hospital had achieved 700 KV, but neither was in routine clinical use. However, when the Metropolitan Vickers 1 MV machine opened at Bart’s in
1936, it was the first megavoltage unit in day-to-day
clinical use, giving almost uninterrupted service from
1937 onwards.
However, no sooner had the 1 MV machine become
smoothly operational than the second World War broke
out and Bart’s, at the centre of the city of London, was in
a vulnerable location. The most memorable incident during the war was when a 750 pound bomb fell 10 yards
from the department but failed to explode, and megavoltage radiotherapy practice continued as usual!
Jones’ interest in central nervous system tolerance to
radiotherapy and optimal management of brain/spinal tumours derived from his training. Born February 1, 1919,
in Denbighshire, Wales, he was educated at Grove Park
School, Wrexham, before St. Bartholomew’s Medical
College 1937–1943. There, he was awarded three scholarships, an exhibition, and many prizes. He served in the
army during the war and became the specialist neurologist in charge of the army’s Hamburg unit, with a particular knowledge of head injury care, having been
trained during his period of service by the noted neurologist Sir Charles Symonds.
After the war, Arthur Jones rose rapidly through the
ranks at Bart’s, where radiotherapy was the pioneering
department. He was appointed Consultant at the age of
only 30 and Deputy Director in 1950 at the age of 41. His
meticulous care in planning and execution of megavolt*Department of Radiotherapy, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, West
Smithfield, London, United Kingdom
86
Plowman
age radiotherapy made him an international authority
during this time. There was no diminution in the vigour
with which Jones led radiotherapy at Bart’s for some 30
years, consolidating and extending safe, curative, megavoltage radiotherapy. His 1948 publication on “Clinical
reactions and injuries in supervoltage therapy” is noteworthy in this regard [3]. His papers on radiotherapy for
pituitary tumours and thyroid eye disease are perhaps his
most famous contributions, although his original description of Lhermitte’s sign occurring as a subacute reaction
to cervical spine radiotherapy is typical of his careful
attention to detail in radiotherapy practice [4].
National and international recognition of his exceptional merits followed. In 1960 he became Hunterian
Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons—a rare honour for a physician—and in 1965 a Fellow of the Royal
College of Physicians; in 1963 he won the Roentgen
Prize of the British Institute of Radiology, and in 1978
the Royal College of Radiologists’ Glyn Evans medal.
He became Professor of Radiotherapy in 1974, having
meanwhile been named Director of the Radiotherapy Department at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1972.
Important academic appointments were numerous.
Dean of St. Bartholomew’s Medical College (1968),
Chairman of the Cancer Research Committee (1971–
1984), Vice President of the Royal College of Radiologists (1967), a member of the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons (1973–1978), and Chairman of the examining board in radiotherapy (1971–1976) give some
idea of the scope of these commitments. In the latter part
of his career, Jones was under intense pressure as Chairman of the MRC Committee on Neutron Therapy (1980–
1987). Had neutrons proved clinically useful, the cost
implications for the project would have been huge, and
vested interests lobbied furiously. Jones maintained his
objectivity and, with his now incomparable experience of
ortho- and megavoltage radiation, chaired the committee
superbly. He was co-opted by the equivalent American
Committee largely for these qualities.
Arthur Jones trained many of the current leading radiotherapists in the United Kingdom. A registrar early in
his career might well be called down to a treatment machine by Professor Jones, only to find his boss on his
hands and knees looking up at the light field and the
shield shadows around the orbits and base of skull in a
prone patient receiving craniospinal radiotherapy.
One past trainee recalls a telephone call to him from
London Airport by Jones, who was off to a Neutron
Therapy Committee meeting in the United States, advising him to cut by one fraction the radiotherapy prescription to a patient with an eyelid epithelioma. These examples would be typical of the attention to detail for
which Jones was famous.
Fig. 2. Professor Jones conducting his final ward round at St. Bartholomew’s in 1984.
Arthur Jones was also a very private man, eventually
wanting no retirement party nor hospital remembrance
service. When providing me with his formidable C.V.,
Carline, his wife, wrote, “It says it all, but to me he was
just Arthur.”
We send his family our deepest sympathy. We have
lost a true leader.
REFERENCES
1. Jones AE. The development of megavoltage x-ray therapy at St.
Bartholomew’s Hospital. In: Plowman PN, Harnett AN, editors.
Megavoltage radiotherapy. Br J Radiol 1998;Suppl. 22, p 3–10.
2. Schulz M. The supervoltage story. Am J Roentgenol 1975;124:
541–559.
3. Jones AE. Clinical reactions and injuries in supervoltage therapy.
Proc R Soc Med 1948;41:703.
4. Jones AE. Transient radiation myelopathy (with reference of
Lhermitte’s sign of electrical paraesthesia). Br J Radiol 1964;37:
727.
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