A new analysis shows that it may be possible to accurately predict a cancer patient?s risk of developing leukemia as a result of receiving radiation therapy for a primary tumor. Understanding these risks may help doctors optimize radiation treatment to minimize the side effects of this therapy, the authors say.
Radiotherapy inevitably exposes healthy tissue to radiation and increases the risk of radiation-induced cancer, the authors write. However, it is difficult to predict these risks because cancer radiotherapy has changed markedly in recent years, patients are on average younger than they used to be, and many cancer patients are surviving longer.
In the December 20 issue of JNCI, Igor Shuryak, M.D., and David J. Brenner, Ph.D., D.Sc., of Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and colleagues report a biologically based model for radiation-induced leukemia risk following radiotherapy.
The new model, which extends their recent model for radiation-induced solid cancers, takes into account the migration of unique cell types involved in the development of leukemia. It calculates leukemia risk based on a patient?s radiation dose to each of the different bone marrow regions throughout the body. The authors conclude that these models may provide new insights into the mechanisms of radiation-induced cancers.