The Canadian Neutron-Induced Carcinogenic Effects Research Program


Industrial exposure to neutron irradiation is tightly controlled such that the carcinogenic risk to individuals and populations is very low. Patients undergoing high-energy (>10 MeV) radiation therapy, however, represent a population group for whom whole-body neutron exposure cannot be controlled. Such patients are thus at risk for second radiation-induced malignancies. This is true in particular for cured pediatric cancer patients whose life expectancy exceeds the latency period for radiation-induced tumor formation. The Neutron-Induced Carcinogenic Effects (NICE) research program ( is designed to study the biophysics underlying the energy-dependent variation in the carcinogenic potential of neutrons such that the second cancer risk to radiation therapy patients may be better understood and accounted for. The program calls for macroscopic and microscopic Monte Carlo modelling of real-world polyenergetic and non-isotropic neutron sources under experimental irradiation conditions coupled with radiobiological experiments and DNA-damage assays. The five-year research program is a collaboration between McGill University, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Detec Inc.

In Radiation Environment and Medicine
John Kildea
John Kildea
Assistant Professor of Medical Physics