Radiation-induced lung fibrosis (RILF) is a severe side effect of radiotherapy in lung cancer patients that presents
as a progressive pulmonary injury combined with chronic inflammation and exaggerated organ repair. RILF is a major
barrier to improving the cure rate and well-being of lung cancer patients because it limits the radiation dose that is required
to effectively kill tumor cells and diminishes normal lung function. Although the exact mechanism is unclear, accumulating
evidence suggests that various cells, cytokines and regulatory molecules are involved in the tissue reorganization
and immune response modulation that occur in RILF. In this review, we will summarize the general symptoms, diagnostics,
and current understanding of the cells and molecular factors that are linked to the signaling networks implicated in
RILF. Potential approaches for the treatment of RILF will also be discussed. Elucidating the key molecular mediators that
initiate and control the extent of RILF in response to therapeutic radiation may reveal additional targets for RILF treatment
to significantly improve the efficacy of radiotherapy for lung cancer patients.
Keywords: Fibrosis, lung cancer, radiotherapy, side effects.
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