Purpose: To examine whether possession of genetic alterations in the ATM (ataxia telangiectasia) gene is associated with rectal bleeding in a dose-dependent and volume-dependent manner.
Methods and materials: One hundred eight prostate cancer patients who underwent brachytherapy using either an (125)I implant, a (103)Pd implant, or the combination of external beam radiotherapy with a (103)Pd implant and had a minimum of 1 year follow-up were screened for DNA sequence variations in the 62 coding exons of the ATM gene using denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography. Rectal dose was reported as the volume (in cubic centimeters) of rectum receiving the brachytherapy prescription dose. The two-sided Fisher exact test was used to compare differences in proportions.
Results: A significant correlation between the presence of any ATM sequence alteration and Grade 1 to 2 proctitis was obtained when the radiation dose to rectal tissue was quantified. Rectal bleeding occurred in 4 of 13 patients (31%) with a variant versus 1 of 23 (4%) without a genetic alteration for patients who had <0.7 cm(3) of rectal tissue receiving the implant prescription dose (p = 0.05). Of patients in whom 0.7-1.4 cm(3) of the rectum received the implant prescription, 4 of 11 (36%) with an ATM alteration exhibited Grade 1 to 2 proctitis, whereas 1 of 21 (5%) without a variant (p = 0.04) developed this radiation-induced late effect.
Conclusions: The possession of genetic variants in the ATM gene is associated with the development of radiation-induced proctitis after prostate cancer radiotherapy for patients who receive the full prescription dose to either a low or a moderate volume of rectal tissue.