Immunopharmacologic effects of radiation therapy in head and neck cancers

  • J. B. Dubois
Part of the Cancer Treatment and Research book series (CTAR, volume 22)

Abstract

Accompanying the therapeutic benefits of radiotherapy, neighboring healthy tissue is subjected to adverse effects. Moreover, ionizing radiation is a known immune-suppressor and thus can lead to dissemination of residual malignant cells after treatment. Do the benefits of radiotherapy on tumor evolution outweigh the suppressive action on host immune defense? Although the interaction between ionizing radiation and the immune system appears to be complex, the outcome is not always counterproductive and the mechanisms involved therefore merit thorough investigation. Numerous studies have shown that the changes in tumor immunity in the cancer patient are non specific whether they occur before (spontaneous), during or after treatment (more or less removed from the time of chemo- or radiotherapy). A more specifically oriented (and therefore more promising) approach would be to study cell mediated immunity based not only on T-lymphocytes but also macrophages and killer cell populations (natural and antibody dependent killer lymphocytes). Since the radiosensitivities of these populations differ, it would logically follow that their respective roles in post radiotherapeutic immunosuppression would depend on several variables. For many years, the only identified lymphocyte event following certain local irradiation was lymphopenia. Present day studies are much more refined and investigate various lymphocyte subpopulations thereby more realistically evaluating the repercussions of radiotherapy on immune response.

Keywords

Depression Cobalt Leukemia Titration Propylene 

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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Boston 1984

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  • J. B. Dubois

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