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Keywords:

  • Mutations;
  • radiation;
  • children

Abstract

Cases of thyroid cancer among children in Belarus represent a unique model system in which the cause of the cancer is known - radiation. Although other sources of radiation-induced cancers are diminishing (survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and individuals exposed to diagnostic or therapeutic radiation) fears of radiation exposure from accidents and terrorism are increasing. Our analysis of current data reveals that Chernobyl-related cancer cases might have a specific pattern of genetic aberrations. These data strongly confirm the hypothesis that radiation-induced cancers might arise as a result of specific gene aberrations that are distinct from those in sporadic cancers, suggesting that methods of prevention and treatment of radiation-induced cancers might require a different approach. Understanding of the molecular mechanisms of Chernobyl-related papillary thyroid carcinomas will help to identify mechanisms by which radiation causes aberrations and oncogenic cell transformation. Thus, in turn, it will be important in the development of new treatments or technologies to minimize the effects of radiation damage from nuclear accidents or nuclear attacks. IUBMB Life, 55: 637-641, 2003