Radiotherapy toxicity

Dirk De Ruysscher, Gabriele Niedermann, Neil G. Burnet, Shankar Siva, Anne W. M. Lee, Fiona Hegi-johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Radiotherapy is used in >50% of patients with cancer, both for curative and palliative purposes. Radiotherapy uses ionizing radiation to target and kill tumour tissue, but normal tissue can also be damaged, leading to toxicity. Modern and precise radiotherapy techniques, such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy, may prevent toxicity, but some patients still experience adverse effects. The physiopathology of toxicity is dependent on many parameters, such as the location of irradiation or the functional status of organs at risk. Knowledge of the mechanisms leads to a more rational approach for controlling radiotherapy toxicity, which may result in improved symptom control and quality of life for patients. This improved quality of life is particularly important in paediatric patients, who may live for many years with the long-term effects of radiotherapy. Notably, signs and symptoms occurring after radiotherapy may not be due to the treatment but to an exacerbation of existing conditions or to the development of new diseases. Although differential diagnosis may be difficult, it has important consequences for patients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Reviews. Disease Primers
Issue number1
Early online date21 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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