Personalized cancer risk assessments for space radiation exposures

Paul A. Locke, Michael M. Weil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individuals differ in their susceptibility to radiogenic cancers, and there is evidence that this inter-individual susceptibility extends to HZE ion-induced carcinogenesis. Three components of individual risk: sex, age at exposure, and prior tobacco use, are already incorporated into the NASA cancer risk model used to determine safe days in space for US astronauts. Here, we examine other risk factors that could potentially be included in risk calculations. These include personal and family medical history, the presence of pre-malignant cells that could undergo malignant transformation as a consequence of radiation exposure, the results from phenotypic assays of radiosensitivity, heritable genetic polymorphisms associated with radiosensitivity, and postflight monitoring. Inclusion of these additional risk or risk reduction factors has the potential to personalize risk estimates for individual astronauts and could influence the determination of safe days in space. We consider how this type of assessment could be used and explore how the provisions of the federal Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act could impact the collection, dissemination and use of this information by NASA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number38
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Issue numberFEB
StatePublished - 2016


  • Cancer
  • Cancer risk
  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Radiation carcinogenesis
  • Space radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Personalized cancer risk assessments for space radiation exposures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this