Hepatic Radiation Toxicity: Avoidance and Amelioration

Chandan Guha, Brian D. Kavanagh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


The refinement of radiation therapy and radioembolization techniques has led to a resurgent interest in radiation-induced liver disease (RILD). The awareness of technical and clinical parameters that influence the chance of RILD is important to guide patient selection and toxicity minimization strategies. "Classic" RILD is characterized by anicteric ascites and hepatomegaly and is unlikely to occur after a mean liver dose of approximately 30 Gy in conventional fractionation. By maintaining a low mean liver dose and sparing a "critical volume" of liver from radiation, stereotactic delivery techniques allow for the safe administration of higher tumor doses. Caution must be exercised for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma or pre-existing liver disease (eg, Child-Pugh score of B or C) because they are more susceptible to RILD that can manifest in a nonclassic pattern. Although no pharmacologic interventions have yet been proven to mitigate RILD, preclinical research shows the potential for therapies targeting transforming growth factor-β and for the transplantation of stem cells, hepatocytes, and liver progenitor cells as strategies that may restore liver function. Also, in the clinical setting of veno-occlusive liver disease after high-dose chemotherapy, agents with fibrinolytic and antithrombotic properties can reverse liver failure, suggesting a possible role in the setting of RILD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-263
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Radiation Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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