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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Radiation Dosimetry Research to Support Epidemiological Studies

DCEG investigators in the Dosimetry Unit of the Radiation Epidemiology Branch (REB) conduct dosimetry research in collaboration with branch epidemiologists and statisticians. Our research focuses on developing new dosimetry methods and refining existing methods to achieve more accurate dose estimates, as well as quantifying and incorporating related uncertainties.

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Dosimetry Methods and Tools

Dosimetry methods and tools developed by REB investigators are made widely available to encourage use by other radiation dosimetrists and epidemiologists. Examples include:

  • Computational and Physical Human Phantoms
  • Monte Carlo Simulation Methods
  • Uncertainties in Doses
  • Radiation Measurements

Learn more about Dosimetry Methods and Tools.

Medical Radiation Exposure

Exposure to diagnostic examinations involving radiation has increased dramatically among the U.S. population. In order to support epidemiological studies of medical radiation and cancer risk, DCEG dosimetry researchers are developing more accurate methods to estimate radiation doses from diagnostic radiologic examinations, such as computed tomography (CT) scans, radiography or fluoroscopically-guided interventional procedures, and nuclear medicine exams. They are also studying how to estimate radiation doses to normal tissues from radiological cancer treatments, including external radiation treatments and therapeutic nuclear medicine procedures, in order to better support studies of second cancers and their possible causes.

Diagnostic Radiation Procedures

Therapeutic Radiation Procedures

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Occupational Radiation Exposure

There are an estimated 1.5 million radiation workers in the United States, and questions remain about optimal radiation protection strategies for protracted low-dose occupational radiation exposures. The public is also concerned about radiation protection because of ubiquitous, protracted, low-dose exposures from certain medical procedures, air travel, natural background, and other sources. Studies of cancer among occupationally exposed populations are important therefore for radiation protection purposes, and for estimating and projecting risks to the public. DCEG dosimetry researchers in the REB are developing methods to more accurately estimate organ dose and quantify uncertainties for radiation workers exposed to medical radiation procedures and involved in radiation accidents.

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Environmental Radiation Exposure

Fundamental questions remain unanswered about the potential hazards of low-dose, protracted radiation exposures from environmental radiation sources. The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident was an important reminder of the need to understand the long-term effects of low-dose protracted exposures from radioactive cesium (137Cs) deposited on the ground and internal exposure to radionuclides especially radioiodine (131I) resulting from the accident. In support of epidemiological studies of cancer risk from environmental radiation exposure, DCEG dosimetry researchers in the REB are developing methods for more accurate dose estimates and for reducing uncertainty in studies of thyroid cancer and other thyroid diseases in persons exposed to radionuclides from the Chernobyl accident and to fallout from nuclear weapons testing.

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