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Genes 2011, 2(4), 1033-1049; doi:10.3390/genes2041033
Review

Modeling the Risk of Secondary Malignancies after Radiotherapy

1,2
Received: 16 September 2011; in revised form: 1 November 2011 / Accepted: 4 November 2011 / Published: 29 November 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radiation-Related Cancer 25 Years After Chernobyl)
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Abstract: In developed countries, more than half of all cancer patients receive radiotherapy at some stage in the management of their disease. However, a radiation-induced secondary malignancy can be the price of success if the primary cancer is cured or at least controlled. Therefore, there is increasing concern regarding radiation-related second cancer risks in long-term radiotherapy survivors and a corresponding need to be able to predict cancer risks at high radiation doses. Of particular interest are second cancer risk estimates for new radiation treatment modalities such as intensity modulated radiotherapy, intensity modulated arc-therapy, proton and heavy ion radiotherapy. The long term risks from such modern radiotherapy treatment techniques have not yet been determined and are unlikely to become apparent for many years, due to the long latency time for solid tumor induction. Most information on the dose-response of radiation-induced cancer is derived from data on the A-bomb survivors who were exposed to γ-rays and neutrons. Since, for radiation protection purposes, the dose span of main interest is between zero and one Gy, the analysis of the A-bomb survivors is usually focused on this range. With increasing cure rates, estimates of cancer risk for doses larger than one Gy are becoming more important for radiotherapy patients. Therefore in this review, emphasis was placed on doses relevant for radiotherapy with respect to radiation induced solid cancer. Simple radiation protection models should be used only with extreme care for risk estimates in radiotherapy, since they are developed exclusively for low dose. When applied to scatter radiation, such models can predict only a fraction of observed second malignancies. Better semi-empirical models include the effect of dose fractionation and represent the dose-response relationships more accurately. The involved uncertainties are still huge for most of the organs and tissues. A major reason for this is that the underlying processes of the induction of carcinoma and sarcoma are not well known. Most uncertainties are related to the time patterns of cancer induction, the population specific dependencies and to the organ specific cancer induction rates. For radiotherapy treatment plan optimization these factors are irrelevant, as a treatment plan comparison is performed for a patient of specific age, sex, etc. If a treatment plan is compared relative to another one only the shape of the dose-response curve (the so called risk-equivalent dose) is of importance and errors can be minimized.
Keywords: radiation induced cancer; radiotherapy; second cancer radiation induced cancer; radiotherapy; second cancer
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Schneider, U. Modeling the Risk of Secondary Malignancies after Radiotherapy. Genes 2011, 2, 1033-1049.

AMA Style

Schneider U. Modeling the Risk of Secondary Malignancies after Radiotherapy. Genes. 2011; 2(4):1033-1049.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Schneider, Uwe. 2011. "Modeling the Risk of Secondary Malignancies after Radiotherapy." Genes 2, no. 4: 1033-1049.



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