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Q J Nucl Med. 2000 Dec;44(4):347-54.

Genetic susceptibility to radiations. Which impact on medical practice?

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  • 1Department of Radiotherapy, Curie Institute, Paris, France.


Recent progress especially in the field of gene identification and expression have raised more attention on genetic susceptibility to cancer possibly enhanced by radiation. Radiation therapists are mostly concerned by this question since hypersensitive patients may suffer from adverse effects in normal tissues following a standard radiation therapy and normally sensitive patients could benefit from higher doses of radiation for better treatment of their malignant tumors. Although only a small percentage of individuals are "hypersensitive" to radiation effects, all medical specialists using ionising radiation should be aware of this new progress in medical knowledge. The present paper reviews the main pathologies (diseases, syndromes...) known or strongly suspected to be associated with a hypersensitivity to ionizing radiation. Then the main tests capable of detecting in advance such pathologies are analyzed and compared. Finally guidelines are provided, especially to the radiation therapists to limit the risk of severe complications (or even deaths) for this specific subset of patients suffering from a genetic disorder with a susceptibility to radiations.

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