This issue of THE JOURNAL includes articles on the therapeutic uses of ionizing radiation and the long-term adverse health consequences of radiation exposure. The balancing of benefit and risk is critical both in assessing the utility of medical applications of radiation and nonmedical applications, such as nuclear power generation, where the Chernobyl incident demonstrated the potentially disastrous consequences of unsafe operation.1 In many medical applications, such as radiotherapy for treating selected patients with cervical cancer as reported herein by Rotman et al,2 direct benefits may often outweigh any long-term risk. However, some medical uses, such as mammographic screening, require a careful and quantitative analysis of the benefits and risks involved. Thus, a critical need exists to determine as precisely as possible the risks of subsequent adverse health outcomes following exposure to ionizing radiation.
See also pp 387, 402, and 425.
To date, the majority of data on such
Howe GR. Radiation-Related Health RisksFuture Directions for Research?. JAMA. 1995;274(5):427-428. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530050075037