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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2006 May 1;65(1):1-7.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy, protons, and the risk of second cancers.

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  • Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University Medical Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA. ejh1@columbia.edu

Abstract

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) allows dose to be concentrated in the tumor volume while sparing normal tissues. However, the downside to IMRT is the potential to increase the number of radiation-induced second cancers. The reasons for this potential are more monitor units and, therefore, a larger total-body dose because of leakage radiation and, because IMRT involves more fields, a bigger volume of normal tissue is exposed to lower radiation doses. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy may double the incidence of solid cancers in long-term survivors. This outcome may be acceptable in older patients if balanced by an improvement in local tumor control and reduced acute toxicity. On the other hand, the incidence of second cancers is much higher in children, so that doubling it may not be acceptable. IMRT represents a special case for children for three reasons. First, children are more sensitive to radiation-induced cancer than are adults. Second, radiation scattered from the treatment volume is more important in the small body of the child. Third, the question of genetic susceptibility arises because many childhood cancers involve a germline mutation. The levels of leakage radiation in current Linacs are not inevitable. Leakage can be reduced but at substantial cost. An alternative strategy is to replace X-rays with protons. However, this change is only an advantage if the proton machine employs a pencil scanning beam. Many proton facilities use passive modulation to produce a field of sufficient size, but the use of a scattering foil produces neutrons, which results in an effective dose to the patient higher than that characteristic of IMRT. The benefit of protons is only achieved if a scanning beam is used in which the doses are 10 times lower than with IMRT.

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PMID:
16618572
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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