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Radiat Environ Biophys. 2008 Apr;47(2):253-63. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

Cancer risk estimates from the combined Japanese A-bomb and Hodgkin cohorts for doses relevant to radiotherapy.

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Division of Medical Physics, Department of Radiation Oncology and Nuclear Medicine, The Triemli Hospital Zürich, 8063 Zürich, Switzerland.


Most information on the dose-response of radiation-induced cancer is derived from data on the A-bomb survivors who were exposed to gamma-rays and neutrons. Since, for radiation protection purposes, the dose span of main interest is between 0 and 1 Gy, the analysis of the A-bomb survivors is usually focused on this range. However, estimates of cancer risk for doses above 1 Gy are becoming more important for radiotherapy patients and for long-term manned missions in space research. Therefore in this work, emphasis is placed on doses relevant for radiotherapy with respect to radiation-induced solid cancer. The analysis of the A-bomb survivor's data was extended by including two extra high-dose categories (4-6 Sv and 6-13 Sv) and by an attempted combination with cancer data on patients receiving radiotherapy for Hodgkin's disease. In addition, since there are some recent indications for a high neutron dose contribution, the data were fitted separately for three different values for the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of the neutrons (10, 35 and 100) and a variable RBE as a function of dose. The data were fitted using a linear, a linear-exponential and a plateau-dose-response relationship. Best agreement was found for the plateau model with a dose-varying RBE. It can be concluded that for doses above 1 Gy there is a tendency for a nonlinear dose-response curve. In addition, there is evidence of a neutron RBE greater than 10 for the A-bomb survivor data. Many problems and uncertainties are involved in combing these two datasets. However, since very little is currently known about the shape of dose-response relationships for radiation-induced cancer in the radiotherapy dose range, this approach could be regarded as a first attempt to acquire more information on this area. The work presented here also provides the first direct evidence that the bending over of the solid cancer excess risk dose response curve for the A-bomb survivors, generally observed above 2 Gy, is due to cell killing effects.

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