Volume 57, Number 3, July - September 2022
|Page(s)||189 - 199|
|Published online||22 August 2022|
Is the linear no-threshold (LNT) model relevant for radiotherapy?
Centre Charlebourg / La Défense, Groupe Amethyst, 92250 La Garenne-Colombes, France
* Corresponding author: email@example.com
Accepted: 13 July 2022
Initially considered as a kind of radiobiological law, the linear no-threshold (LNT) model, which by definition supports the absence of any threshold for cancer risk induction after irradiation, is nowadays more reasonably described as a pragmatic and prudent approach by the International Organizations. However, it remains today a dogma in radiological protection. Actually, this model had been essentially developed for the radiological protection of a general population against low, and sometimes very low, doses of irradiation. Radiation oncologists are dealing with a totally different situation since they deliver, on purpose, high doses of radiations in more or less limited volumes of the body of cancer patients, patients for whom no other alternatives do exist to get rid of their malignant tumors. Simultaneously, the radiation oncologists inevitably give low and even very low doses at distance from the so-called target volumes. In such a specific situation, what is the carcinogenicity of these low doses and the relevance of the LNT model in radiotherapy? Thus, this paper addresses three critical questions: 1) what is the risk acceptability of the radiation doses delivered by radiotherapy of malignant tumors? 2) what is the real carcinogenic risk of (very) low doses delivered at distance from the target volume? 3) are the clinical radiotherapy data, i.e., the number of second primary cancers, accumulated since more than a century, consistent with the LNT model? In conclusion, the LNT model appears to be poorly adapted to the high doses locally delivered to cancer patients and dramatically overestimates, in most cases, the risk of secondary radio-induced cancers. In fine, the real risk of the LNT model in radiotherapy would be to promote radiophobia in cancer patients and to see some of them turning away from a life-saving treatment.
Key words: linear no-threshold model / LNT / radiological protection / radiotherapy / carcinogenesis
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences 2022
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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