PURPOSE: To study the clinically relevant relative biologic effectiveness (RBE) of fractionated treatments with high linear energy transfer (LET) radiation and to identify the important factors that might influence the transfer of tolerance and curative levels from low LET radiation. These are important questions in the light of the growing interest for the therapeutic use of radiation with higher LET than electrons or photons.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: The RBE of various fractionated schedules was analyzed with theoretical models for radiation effect, and the resulting predictions were compared with the published clinical and experimental data regarding fractionated irradiation with high LET radiation.
RESULTS: The clinically relevant RBE increased for greater doses per fraction, in contrast to the predictions from single-dose experiments. Furthermore, the RBE for late-reacting tissues appeared to modify more quickly than that for early-reacting tissues. These aspects have quite important clinical implications, because the increased biologic effectiveness reported for this type of radiation would otherwise support the use of hypofractionation. Thus, the differential between acute and late-reacting tissues could put the late-reacting normal tissues at more risk from high LET irradiation; however, at the same time, it could increase the therapeutic window for slow-growing tumors.
CONCLUSIONS: The modification of the RBE with the dose per fraction must be carefully taken into consideration when devising fractionated treatments with high LET radiation. Neglecting to do so might result in an avalanche of complications that could obscure the potential advantages of the therapeutic use of this type of radiation.
2008. Vol. 70, no 3, 867-874 p.