Radiation Dose-Volume Effects in the Brain

Yaacov Richard Lawrence*, X. Allen Li, Issam el Naqa, Carol A. Hahn, Lawrence B. Marks, Thomas E. Merchant, Adam P. Dicker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have reviewed the published data regarding radiotherapy (RT)-induced brain injury. Radiation necrosis appears a median of 1-2 years after RT; however, cognitive decline develops over many years. The incidence and severity is dose and volume dependent and can also be increased by chemotherapy, age, diabetes, and spatial factors. For fractionated RT with a fraction size of <2.5 Gy, an incidence of radiation necrosis of 5% and 10% is predicted to occur at a biologically effective dose of 120 Gy (range, 100-140) and 150 Gy (range, 140-170), respectively. For twice-daily fractionation, a steep increase in toxicity appears to occur when the biologically effective dose is >80 Gy. For large fraction sizes (≥2.5 Gy), the incidence and severity of toxicity is unpredictable. For single fraction radiosurgery, a clear correlation has been demonstrated between the target size and the risk of adverse events. Substantial variation among different centers' reported outcomes have prevented us from making toxicity-risk predictions. Cognitive dysfunction in children is largely seen for whole brain doses of ≥18 Gy. No substantial evidence has shown that RT induces irreversible cognitive decline in adults within 4 years of RT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S20-S27
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Cancer InstituteP30CA021765


    • Radiotherapy
    • brain
    • side effects
    • stereotactic radiosurgery
    • tolerance


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