Test could predict side effects of radiotherapy treatment

22 February 2013

UK researchers think they have found a way to determine which patients undergoing radiotherapy will suffer serious side effects from the treatment.

Gastrointestinal side effects from radiotherapy treatment are not uncommon, yet until now there has been no means of predicting which patients will suffer from them.

A team at the University of Warwick and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation looked at the connection between levels of toxicity in the gut and the likelihood of experiencing side effects.

The pilot study used an electronic nose and a newer technology known as field asymmetric ion mobility spectrometry, or Faims, to help identify which patients could be at higher risk.

Researchers said the trial study will lead to further investigation into how Faims and an electronic nose could help doctors inform patients receiving radiotherapy about possible side effects, before treatment is started.

"In essence, we will be able to predict those who are likely to develop severe gut related side effects by the pattern of gut fermentation that are altered as a result of radiotherapy," said Dr Ramesh Arasaradnam of Warwick Medical School.

"This will enable future directed therapy in these high risk groups."

Posted by Jeannette Royston

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