Scientists have conducted a study into the common genetic variations that are associated with side effects from radiotherapy.
Researchers at the University of Manchester discussed their study at the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Birmingham this week.
At present, half of cancer patients receive radiotherapy but this dose is sometimes limited due to the possibility of side effects, or toxicity, to the normal tissues and organs around the tumour.
Dr Catharine West, of the University's Cancer Studies research group, and Dr Neil Burnet, of the University of Cambridge, are leading the large multi-centre UK study.
Dr West commented: "This is a very exciting development in cancer research.
"Genotyping studies should provide a means of identifying radiosensitive patients and lead to a greater individualisation of radiation dose prescription to optimise tumour control while reducing toxicity."
Ms Rebecca Elliott, who spoke at the conference, said the research made possible the notion of putting together a patient profile specifically to deal with this issue.
She added: "If you have certain versions of genes x, y and z, then you have the chance of getting toxicity one hundred times more than someone with other versions."
"Although we are still collecting samples and are some way off getting our final results, it is an important new pathway in cancer research."
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