The immune system has the power to modulate the expression of radiation-induced normal and tumor tissue damage. On the one hand, it can contribute to cancer cure, and on the other hand, it can influence acute and late radiation side effects, which in many ways resemble acute and chronic inflammatory disease states. The way radiation-induced inflammation feeds into adaptive antigen-specific immune responses adds another dimension to the tumor-host cross talk during radiation therapy and to possible radiation-driven autoimmune responses. Understanding how radiation affects inflammation and immunity is therefore critical if we are to effectively manipulate these forces for benefit in radiation oncology treatments.
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