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Radiat Res. 2006 Jul;166(1 Pt 2):141-57.

Dose reconstruction for therapeutic and diagnostic radiation exposures: use in epidemiological studies.

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Department of Radiation Physics, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.


This paper describes methods developed specifically for reconstructing individual organ- and tissue-absorbed dose of radiation from past exposures from medical treatments and procedures for use in epidemiological studies. These methods have evolved over the past three decades and have been applied to a variety of medical exposures including external-beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy for malignant and benign diseases as well as diagnostic examinations. The methods used for estimating absorbed dose to organs in and outside the defined treatment volume generally require archival data collection, abstraction and review, and phantom measurements to simulate past exposure conditions. Three techniques are used to estimate doses from radiation therapy: (1) calculation in three-dimensional mathematical computer models using an extensive database of out-of-beam doses measured in tissue-equivalent materials, (2) measurement in anthropomorphic phantoms constructed of tissue-equivalent material, and (3) calculation using a three-dimensional treatment-planning computer. For diagnostic exposures, doses are estimated from published data and software based on Monte Carlo techniques. We describe and compare these methods of dose estimation and discuss uncertainties in estimated organ doses and potential for future improvement. Seven epidemiological studies are discussed to illustrate the methods.

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