While cancer takes many years to develop, radiation leads to changes in the DNA profile in a fraction of a second. In breast cancer patients radiation therapy is often used to destroy any remaining breast cancer cells in the breast, chest wall or underarm area after surgery. Occasionally, radiation therapy is used before surgery to shrink the size of tumour.
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Breast cancer patients suffer more from radiation
therapy than from the disease itself.
According to a research conducted by the Human Genetics Division
of the Department of Zoology, Osmania University, radiation
therapy, commonly followed in breast cancer patients after surgical
removal of the affected breast, leads to mutations or changes in the
DNA profile of the individual. The severity of the mutation and its
consequential impact on the overall health and genetic profile of the
breast cancer patient depends on the intensity of the radiation used in
The study conducted by C Kusum and K Rudrama Devi of Osmania
University revealed chormosomal aberration in peripheral blood
lymphocyte of the breast cancer patients treated with ultraviolet
In radiation therapy involves dosages many thousand times higher
than those used in diagnostic x-rays. Ionising radiation has been
shown to induce cancer in many different species of animals and in
almost all parts of the body. It is one of the few scientifically proven
carcinogens in human beings, although it appears to be a relatively
weak cancer-causing agent compared to many chemicals.
It was found in the study that ionising radiation was capable of
penetrating cells and causing ionisation in different parts of the cell.
Since ionised molecules are unstable and quickly undergo chemical
changes, they will form free radicals that can damage the molecule
or other molecules around.
One type of molecule that is sensitive to ionising radiation is DNA,
the part of the cell that contains the genes for each person's
characteristics. "ionising radiation can lead to mutation in a cell's
DNA, which could contribute to cancer, or to the death of the cell.
Al cells in the body can be damaged by ionising radiation. The
amount of damage is related to the dose of radiation received by the
cell," the study points out.
While cancer takes many years to develop, radiation leads to
changes in the DNA profile in a fraction of a second. In breast
cancer patients radiation therapy is often used to destroy any
remaining breast cancer cells in the breast, chest wall or underarm
area after surgery. Occasionally, radiation therapy is used before
surgery to shrink the size of tumour.
Treatment with radiation usually begins one month after surgery,
allowing the breast tissue adequate time to heal. Radiation therapy
may occasionally be recommended for women to destroy remaining
cancer cells after mastectomy or to shrink tumours in patient with
advanced breast cancer.