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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


HENDRY, Jolyon H.; JEREMIC, Branislav  and  ZUBIZARRETA, Eduardo H.. Normal tissue complications after radiation therapy. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2006, vol.20, n.2-3, pp.151-160. ISSN 1680-5348.

This paper describes the biological mechanisms of normal tissue reactions after radiation therapy, with reference to conventional treatments, new treatments, and treatments in developing countries. It also describes biological reasons for the latency period before tissue complications arise, the relationship of dose to incidence, the effect of increasing the size of the irradiated volume, early and late tissue reactions, effects of changes in dose fractionation and dose rate, and combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy responses. Examples are given of increases in knowledge of clinical radiobiology from trials of new protocols. Potential modification to treatments include the use of biological response modifiers. The introduction of "response prediction" modifications to treatments might also be available in the near future. Finally, the paper points out that in some radiotherapy centers, the biologically-effective doses prescribed for combined brachytherapy and teletherapy treatment of cervix cancer are lower than those prescribed in other centers. This issue needs to be addressed further. The wealth of preclinical and clinical data has led to a much greater understanding of the biological basis to radiotherapy. This understanding has underpinned a variety of new approaches in radiotherapy, including both physical and biological strategies. There is also the important issue of treatment of a large number of cancers in developing countries, for which efficacious resource-sparing protocols are being continuously developed. A unified scoring system should be widely accepted as the new standard in reporting the adverse effects of radiation therapy. Likewise, late toxicity should be reported on an actuarial basis as a mandatory endpoint.

Keywords : neoplasms; radiotherapy; dose-response relationship [radiation]; radiation injuries.

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