Nature Reviews Cancer 9, 134-142 (February 2009) | doi:10.1038/nrc2587

OpinionNormal tissue reactions to radiotherapy: towards tailoring treatment dose by genotype

Gillian C. Barnett1,2, Catherine M. L. West3, Alison M. Dunning2, Rebecca M. Elliott3, Charlotte E. Coles1, Paul D. P. Pharoah2 & Neil G. Burnet1  About the authors


A key challenge in radiotherapy is to maximize radiation doses to cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. As severe toxicity in a minority of patients limits the doses that can be safely given to the majority, there is interest in developing a test to measure an individual's radiosensitivity before treatment. Variation in sensitivity to radiation is an inherited genetic trait and recent progress in genotyping raises the possibility of genome-wide studies to characterize genetic profiles that predict patient response to radiotherapy.

Author affiliations

  1. Gillian C. Barnett, Charlotte E. Coles and Neil G. Burnet are at the University of Cambridge Department of Oncology, Oncology Centre, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK.
  2. Gillian C. Barnett, Alison M. Dunning and Paul D. P. Pharoah are at the Department of Oncology, Strangeways Research Laboratories, Worts Causeway, Cambridge CB1 8RN, UK.
  3. Catherine M. L. West and Rebecca M. Elliott are at the Academic Radiation Oncology, University of Manchester, Christie Hospital, Manchester M20 4BX, UK.

Correspondence to: Gillian C. Barnett1,2 Email:

Published online 16 January 2009


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