Original Paper

Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 169-176

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Modeling progression in radiation-induced lung adenocarcinomas

  • Hatim FakirAffiliated withLondon Regional Cancer ProgramDepartment of Mathematics, University of California Email author 
  • , Werner HofmannAffiliated withDivision of Physics and Biophysics, Department of Materials Engineering and Physics, University of Salzburg
  • , Rainer K. SachsAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, University of California


Quantitative multistage carcinogenesis models are used in radiobiology to estimate cancer risks and latency periods (time from exposure to clinical cancer). Steps such as initiation, promotion and transformation have been modeled in detail. However, progression, a later step during which malignant cells can develop into clinical symptomatic cancer, has often been approximated simply as a fixed lag time. This approach discounts important stochastic mechanisms in progression and evidence on the high prevalence of dormant tumors. Modeling progression more accurately is therefore important for risk assessment. Unlike models of earlier steps, progression models can readily utilize not only experimental and epidemiological data but also clinical data such as the results of modern screening and imaging. Here, a stochastic progression model is presented. We describe, with minimal parameterization: the initial growth or extinction of a malignant clone after formation of a malignant cell; the likely dormancy caused, for example, by nutrient and oxygen deprivation; and possible escape from dormancy resulting in a clinical cancer. It is shown, using cohort simulations with parameters appropriate for lung adenocarcinomas, that incorporating such processes can dramatically lengthen predicted latency periods. Such long latency periods together with data on timing of radiation-induced cancers suggest that radiation may influence progression itself.