Pulmonary radiation injury is a general term for damage to the lungs which occurs as a result of exposure to ionizing radiation. In general terms, such damage is divided into early inflammatory damage (radiation pneumonitis) and later complications of chronic scarring (radiation fibrosis). Pulmonary radiation injury most commonly occurs as a result of radiation therapy administered to treat cancer.
The lungs are a radiosensitive organ, and radiation pneumonitis can occur leading to pulmonary insufficiency and death (100% after exposure to 50 gray of radiation), in a few months.
Radiation pneumonitis is characterized by:
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