Researchers at MIT have devised a new method for examining how radiation damages normal tissue in the body. The knowledge may make it possible to reduce side effects for cancer patients or to develop treatments for radiation exposure.
About 50 percent of all cancer patients are treated with radiation therapy, either alone or in combination with some other type of treatment. Radiation can be very effective in killing tumor cells, but it also kills normal tissues nearby. In the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, this killing of normal cells can cause such side effects as nausea or diarrhea within days or weeks of treatment, and serious GI tissue damage can occur months or years later.
"The long-term effects that occur six months to a year or more after exposure arent reversible like the short-term ones, and they are a big unknown," said Associate Professor Jeffrey A. Coderre of MITs Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. The damage is similar to scar tissue formation and can seriously affect tissue function in the GI tract.
Elizabeth A. Thomson | MIT News Office
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