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Mesothelioma Linked to Radiation Therapy

A study has revealed startling news about a link between mesothelioma and the use of therapeutic radiation to treat other cancers. According to a report written by researchers from the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences of the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy, an analysis of information gathered by the US Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database has revealed that men who have had radiation therapy for the therapeutic treatment of prostate cancer have an increased risk for being diagnosed with both pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma.

The group’s review of the data has indicated that the use of external beam radiotherapy, which is the most common application of the treatment for patients diagnosed with prostate cancer, led to a “small but detectable risk factor for mesothelioma.” The scientists concluded that “patients should be advised of the risk of radiation-induced second malignancies.”

Though the group concluded that the risk was detectable, it was still considered to be an extremely low risk. The increase in incidence rate ratios (IRR) for patients who received radiation therapy was just 1.08 at a time period of zero to four years after treatment, 1.31 for the period of five to nine years after treatment, and 1.59 for ten or more years after treatment. It is worth noting that though this study is interesting, it did not determine whether the men involved in the study may have had unknown exposures to asbestos during their lifetime. Both prostate cancer and mesothelioma have a tendency to appear most frequently in older men, with “mesothelioma typically presenting in the fifth to seventh decades.” This means that the mesothelioma might have appeared in the men with or without the radiation treatment that they received for their other cancer.

With prostate cancer registering as the second most common cancer in men after skin cancer, there is a solid likelihood that a man who was exposed to asbestos and who will later develop mesothelioma would also suffer from prostate cancer, and that diagnosis might come long before the mesothelioma diagnosis, as mesothelioma has such a long latency period. Mesothelioma cancer develops roughly fifty years after exposure to asbestos, while the study looks at the appearance of the disease within ten years of exposure to radiation therapy.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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