Dr. Gilbert Fletcher; Cancer Researcher

From Associated Press

Dr. Gilbert H. Fletcher, a pioneer in developing cancer radiation treatments, has died at 81.

Fletcher, who died Saturday, helped design the first cobalt-60 radiotherapy unit and helped develop high-voltage linear accelerators as potent tools for treating cancer. Both are now standard radiotherapy techniques.

Fletcher also was the first to determine the precise doses of radiation needed to treat various tumors and to recommend combining radiation with surgery. He focused much attention on reducing the disfigurement caused by treatment of cancers of the head and neck.

Fletcher was chairman of the radiotherapy department at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from 1948 until 1981, before retiring from administrative duties at age 70.

A native of Paris, France, Fletcher was awarded the American Cancer Society's Medal of Honor "for revolutionizing the field of radiotherapy and improving the quality of life" of thousands of cancer patients.

Survivors include his wife, Dr. Mary Fletcher, and their sons, Walter and Thomas.

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