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Increased cancer risk following the use of radioactive Radium-224 in the therapy
Date:6/23/2008

Ankylosing Spondylitis (Bechterew's Disease) is a painful chronic inflammatory rheumatic disease, associated with stiffening of the vertrebral column. Between 100,000 and 150,000 cases have already been diagnosed in Germany, but milder forms of the disease may remain undiagnosed.

The research team, led by Dr. Roland R. Wick, with Dr. Elke A. Nekolla, Prof. Dr. Albrecht M. Kellerer and the late Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Gssner have conducted a long-term follow-up study of 1,471 ankylosing spondylitis patients, whose disease symptoms were treated with repeated intravenous injections of 224Radium. A control cohort of 1,324 ankylosing spondylitis patients treated without the use of radioactive compounds and/or X-rays were also studied.

In the current publication an elevated rate of leukaemias was seen, a malignant disease of the haematopoietic system: In all, 19 observed cases of leukaemia were documented compared with 6.8 cases that would be expected in an age- and gender-matched cohort of a normal population. In particular, the incidence of acute myeloid leukaemia was significantly increased with 7.0 cases compared with 1.8 cases expected in a "normal" population.

Furthermore, four additional cases of preleukaemic diseases of the bone marrow were present in the exposed group and no cases in the control group. The frequency of leukaemia was not increased significantly in the control group compared with the expected value for a normal population.

"It is rather unlikely that impurities present in the radium preparations used before 1950 are responsible for the elevated appearance of myeloproliferative diseases in the exposed group observed here," commented Dr. Roland R. Wick. "In addition, the increased incidence of leukaemia is in line with experimental observations involving the treatment of animals with similar alpha emitting radioisotopes."

The results of these studies by the Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen have contributed decisiv
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Contact: Dr. Roland R. Wick
wick@helmholtz-muenchen.de
49-893-187-2518
Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen - German Research Center for Environmental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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