Dangers of Cancer Radiation


Radiation therapy can also cause spontaneous pneumothorax, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.

Suresh Katakkar is a top oncologist, he is the oncologist that medical personnel come to when they get cancer.

Cancer Committee Chairman: Suresh Katakkar, M.D.
Tumor Board: Suresh Katakkar, M.D.
Clinical Lecturer, Medicine

Radiation therapy can also cause spontaneous pneumothorax, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. In the mediastinum, radiation therapy may cause thymic cysts, calcified lymph nodes, and esophageal injuries.
Cardiovascular complications of radiation therapy are often delayed and insidious. Premature coronary artery stenosis occurs after radiation therapy to the mediastinum. Radiation therapy may also give rise to calcifications of the ascending aorta, pericardial disease, valvular injuries, and conduction abnormalities. Women who undergo thoracic irradiation before the age of 30 years have a high risk of developing a second breast cancer. Radiation-induced sarcomas are an infrequent but well-recognized complication of radiation therapy. Other chest wall injuries due to radiation therapy are osteochondroma and rib or clavicle fractures. Knowledge of the imaging features of injuries caused by radiation therapy can prevent misinterpretation as recurrent tumor and may facilitate further treatment.

Vascular Injuries
Radiation-induced vasculopathy usually occurs after a lapse of about 10 years (39). Radiation injuries within the vascular tree most often affect the capillaries, sinusoids, small arteries, veins, and large arteries (8). When major damage (eg, thrombosis or rupture) is sustained by an elastic artery, the damage tends to be clinically significant (40,41). The only differentiating feature from radiation arteritis is that radiation-induced vasculopathy is limited to the radiation field. Stenoses and occlusions are more frequently reported than are perforations and pseudoaneurysms (42). Arterial bleeding from a radiation ulcer is potentially more life threatening (43). Mediastinal fibrosis produces obliteration of normal fat planes and anatomic landmarks, which is responsible for distortion and stricture of normal vessels (Figs 5, 6).

Lung fibrosis: Lung fibrosis and difficulty breathing are significant late complications following radiation treatment for Hodgkin?s disease and other cancers requiring radiation to the lungs. In one clinical study of 36 patients with stage I-IIA Hodgkin?s lymphoma treated with radiation therapy, a decrease in lung function was noted in all patients. However, this decrease in lung function appeared to improve over time and was thought to be reversible.
Heart disease is also a late complication of radiation to the mediastinum. In one group of 157 patients receiving primary treatment with radiation to the mediastinum, 8.3% died of heart disease, which was 5 times what would have been expected for this age group. The risk of heart disease is associated with higher radiation doses and larger field sizes.

http://radiographics.rsnajnls.org/cgi/content/full/20/1/83 Talks about lung damage due to radiation.


As readers of this newsletter are probably well aware, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) increasingly approves cancer drugs without requiring that they be shown to prolong life. Indeed, FDA's approval standards have now become so lenient that in most instances the manufacturer of a drug only has to demonstrate that in clinical trials the drug performs better than a placebo in order to be confident of a smooth passage through the approval process.

But readers are perhaps less aware of the fact that some kinds of cancer treatment have become the standard of care without ever having been evaluated in clinical trials. Many forms of radiation treatment, for example, have simply been "grandfathered in," - i.e., accepted by default largely on the basis of having been around for a long time.

While few would dispute that radiation does have a useful role in the treatment of cancer, the fact remains that in many instances the relative merits of different kinds of radiation treatment, the limits of its usefulness and the extent of its effectiveness have never been clearly established through clinical trials. This has led to a situation where on the one hand the treatment is almost universally available, yet on the other hand there is very little solid evidence comparing the effectiveness of radiation to various other treatment approaches.

The lack of clear and unequivocal information regarding the question of exactly what benefit radiation treatment confers on cancer patients has been a longstanding concern of mine. For the past year we have been working on a series of evaluative reports on the use of radiation in the treatment most of the common types of cancer. The first of this series, "Radiation and the Treatment of Breast Cancer," is already available. To order scroll down to the end of this newsletter or click or go to:

Another report, "Radiation and the Treatment of Prostate Cancer," will be released within the next few weeks. Over the coming months we will be releasing more of these individual, disease-specific reports as they become available.

We have also written a report on the interaction of radiation with antioxidants "Do Antioxidants Interfere with Radiation Treatment for Cancer?" To order, scroll down to the bottom of this newsletter or click or go to the following link at:

One aspect of radiation therapy that is often overlooked is its capacity to cause sometimes debilitating adverse effects. Patients going through radiation treatment for cancer are seldom adequately forewarned about the unpleasant aspects of treatment, nor told about its capacity to cause long-term harm. Neither are patients typically given nearly enough practical information on how to combat the unpleasant side effects of treatment.

We have now written a practical guide, Overcoming the Adverse Effects of Radiation Therapy, explaining the common negative effects of radiation and how to overcome them. This report will be of immediate value to all patients who are going through radiation treatment or trying to recover from it. As naturopathic physician Daniel Rubin, ND, FABNO, of Scottsdale, AZ, has commented:

"In this report, Ralph Moss demonstrates a global understanding of the mechanisms and pitfalls of radiation therapy. While the benefits of radiotherapy are often discussed, its pitfalls are less well known but can potentially cause harm to people with cancer. It is here that Moss's report demonstrates its true utility: as a guide for those interested in both preventing and treating the unpleasant side effects of radiotherapy. For such people, Overcoming the Adverse Effects of Radiation Therapy is a must-read."

To order this report, as well as others in our Cancer Decisions series, please click or go to:

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