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How does radiation poisoning differ from a local radiation injury?

Radiation poisoning occurs when the whole body is exposed to massive doses of radiation. The source of radiation is typically from an attack or nuclear accident. It results in dysfunction of many of the body's organ systems and causes syndromes such as those involving the digestive system, bone marrow, skin, and possibly the brain. It is a life-threatening illness and is associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Local radiation injury occurs when an individual body part or organ is damaged due to the effects of isolated radiation exposure. The source of radiation is usually from medical radiation therapy for conditions such as cancer. The level of radiation and the body part exposed determine the symptoms. Some side effects such as dry mouth and cavities from jaw irradiation are a nuisance. Other side effects are more serious. For example, radiation to the heart can result in heart failure and extensive radiation to the spine can lead to paralysis. Local radiation injuries can cause premature death and can increase cancer risk.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.