News | Radiation Therapy | March 30, 2020

A New Paper on the Pros and Cons of Radiotherapy

Women more likely to be cured but the side effects are worse

Women are more likely to be cured of cancer by radiotherapy but the side effects are worse.

Women are more likely to be cured of cancer by radiotherapy but the side effects are worse. Image by Mark Kostich

March 30, 2020 — Women undergoing radiotherapy for many cancers are more likely than men to be cured, but the side effects are more brutal, according to one of Australia’s most experienced radiation oncology medical physicists.

University of South Australia (UniSA) Professor of Medical Radiation, Eva Bezak, said women are generally more sensitive to radiation than men, but this is not considered in international guidelines for radiation dosages. Current guidelines are generally based on a person’s height, weight or BMI, and radiobiological responses of the general population.

In a paper published in Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, Bezak and her colleagues Louis de Courcy from University College Dublin and Professor Loredana Marcu from the University of Oradea in Romania highlight the need for gender to be taken into account when administering radiation.

“It is clear that gender plays a role in the occurrence and response to therapy of many diseases,” Bezak said. “For example, it is already well established that men are more susceptible to head, neck and blood cancers and women are more prone to auto immune diseases as well as developing osteoporosis.”

Scientists also know that individual responses to radiotherapy are up to 80 percent determined by genetics.

So, where do we start with gendered medicine?

“The next step is to ensure that we use both male and female mice even in our pre-clinical testing so we can get a better understanding of how gender influences treatment outcomes," she stated. “It is also important to collect data retrospectively so we can compare the radiotherapy outcomes for men and women who were prescribed radiotherapy for the same cancer.”

It is a double-edged coin for men, too. Because they are more radio-resistant than women, their healthy tissues are better protected when receiving radiotherapy with fewer side effects, but their long-term survival rates are shorter.

The differences in radiation responses are highlighted by two major events in history: the Chernobyl nuclear reaction disaster in 1986 and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Bezak said following Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the incidence of cancer in Japan was much higher in women (58 percent) compared to men (35 percent).

Likewise, after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, millions fewer girls were born to irradiated men and women were at greater risk of endocrine imbalance, thyroid cancer and brain tumours.

The one area that does appear to give women some protection against radiation is the female hormone oestrogen, which has a neuroprotective effect during head irradiation.

“As healthcare becomes progressively more tailored to the individual, gender is a factor that can no longer be disregarded. It needs to be taken into account as an independent prognostic factor,” Bezak said.

A video explaining the differences in radiation outcomes between men and women can be viewed at https://youtu.be/BtDniRA7DMs

Related Content

Despite facing challenges such as limited access to personal protective equipment (PPE) following the COVID-19 outbreak, radiation oncology clinics quickly implemented safety and process enhancements that allowed them to continue caring for cancer patients, according to a new national survey from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

Getty Images

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | May 21, 2020
May 21, 2020 — Despite facing challenges such as limited access to...
In response to the significant healthcare delivery changes brought on by COVID-19, Varian has launched new capabilities for its Noona software application, a powerful tool designed to engage cancer patients in their care for continuous reporting and symptom monitoring.
News | Radiation Oncology | May 21, 2020
May 21, 2020 — In response to the significant healthcare delivery changes brought on by...
The global radiation therapy market is expected to reach $10.11 billion in 2024, witnessing growth at a CAGR of 3.38%, over the period 2020-2024.
News | Proton Therapy | May 20, 2020
May 20, 2020 — ResearchAndMarkets.com has released its latest report, the ...
In a new study to help oncologists address the challenges COVID-19-positive lung cancer patients present, a team of global lung cancer specialists published a review of lung cancer treatments for patients with COVID-19

Getty Images

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | May 18, 2020
May 18, 2020 — Lung cancer patients are at heightened risk for...
An innovative radiation treatment that could one day be a valuable addition to conventional radiation therapy for inoperable brain and spinal tumors is a step closer, thanks to new research led by University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers at the Canadian Light Source (CLS).

USask PhD bio-medical engineering student Farley Chicilo at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron at University of Saskatchewan. Photo courtesy of Canadian Light Source, University of Saskatchewan

News | Radiation Therapy | May 14, 2020
May 14, 2020 — An innovative radiation treatment t
Medical University of South Carolina researchers have developed and validated prediction tools, known as nomograms, that could be used to help prevent delays in the initiation of radiotherapy after surgery for head and neck cancer

 

Evan Graboyes, M.D., and his team believe their nomogram tools will improve survival rates for head and neck cancer patients. Photo courtesy of MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

 

News | Radiation Oncology | May 14, 2020
May 14, 2020 — More than 65,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with head and neck cancer, which most often occurs i
Maximum-intensity projections, transaxial fusion, and PET images of 18F-PSMA1007 (A-C) and 68Ga-PSMA-11 (D-F) PET/CT scans of 67-y-old patient with GS 8 and PSA 4.9 ng/mL. Marked uptake is seen in urinary bladder and left ureter (arrow) on maximum-intensity projection image of 68Ga-PSMA-11 (D), as opposed to nearly negligible 18F-PSMA-1007 urinary excretion (A). Dominant lesion in left prostatic lobe is evident on both scans (arrowheads). However, second lesion is seen in right lobe only on 18F-PSMA-1007 sc

Maximum-intensity projections, transaxial fusion, and PET images of 18F-PSMA1007 (A-C) and 68Ga-PSMA-11 (D-F) PET/CT scans of 67-y-old patient with GS 8 and PSA 4.9 ng/mL. Marked uptake is seen in urinary bladder and left ureter (arrow) on maximum-intensity projection image of 68Ga-PSMA-11 (D), as opposed to nearly negligible 18F-PSMA-1007 urinary excretion (A). Dominant lesion in left prostatic lobe is evident on both scans (arrowheads). However, second lesion is seen in right lobe only on 18F-PSMA-1007 scan (arrow in C), later verified on pathology as true malignant lesion. Images created by J. Kuten et al., Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel.

News | Prostate Cancer | May 12, 2020
May 12, 2020 — The novel radiopharmaceutical 18F-PSMA-1007 is both effective and readily available for detecting mali