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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1985 Jun;11(6):1143-8.

Field size dependence of radiation sensitivity and dose fractionation response in skin.


Four sets of data from the literature were analyzed to assess the effects of field size on dose tolerance and dose fraction size dependence in irradiated skin. The data consisted of combinations of total dose and dose per exposure (or number of fractions) required to yield a given degree of visible damage to the skin, for fields of different sizes. Putative cell survival curves were constructed, under the assumptions that the isoeffect represents a fixed cell survival, and that each exposure during a course of fractionated irradiation has equal effect on cell survival. The analysis showed that overall sensitivity to radiation, and dependence on dose per exposure, both increase with field size. To account for these results we describe a model that can be qualitatively related to the geometric properties of the dermal vascular network. First, vascular function after irradiation should depend on the length of the vessels exposed to the radiation. This directly predicts an increasing sensitivity in large irradiated fields. Furthermore, if vascular function determines radiation response, the shape of the shoulder (low-dose) region of the effective survival curve will depend on the average number of vessels nourishing each cell, with a more pronounced shoulder for a high multiplicity of vessels. The model predicts a greater fractionation sensitivity in large than in small fields, in agreement with our analysis of the isoeffect data. It is therefore possible that the advantages of hyperfractionation in reducing late effects in normal tissues may be related to vascular architecture, and not to inherent differences between late and acutely responding cell populations.

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