Vikram Prabhu

Vikram Prabhu

New York — Exposure to radiation either as a result of a nuclear accident or during treatment of diseases may increase the risk of brain tumors in people under the age of 30, says an Indian American specialist.

“People who have been exposed to large doses of radiation to the head face a small risk of later developing brain tumors,” said the first author of the study, Vikram Prabhu, a neurosurgeon at the Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.

“If such a person experiences symptoms associated with brain tumors, including headaches, seizures, vomiting and blurry vision, he or she should see a doctor,” Prabhu added.

Researchers analyzed the records of 35 patients who were diagnosed with a form of brain tumor called meningiomas before the age of 30.

Five of them had been exposed to ionizing radiation earlier in their lives.

Two patients received radiation for leukemia at ages five and six respectively; one received radiation at age three for a brain tumor known as medulloblastoma; and one received radiation for an earlier skull base tumor that appeared to be a meningioma.

The fifth patient had been exposed at age nine to radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in Ukraine. Twenty years later, he was diagnosed with a meningioma.

“The results of this preliminary study have prompted us to look closely at radiation’s effects on the brain,” Prabhu said.

The researchers are doing a follow-up study on patients of all ages who have been treated at Loyola for meningiomas.

They so far have identified 14 meningioma patients who were exposed to radiation earlier in their lives.

These include three patients who were exposed to Chernobyl radiation and 11 patients who received therapeutic radiation for such conditions as leukemia, medulloblastoma tumors and fungal infections of the scalp.

The study was published in the online journal Neuroscience Discovery.

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