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Risk of Radiation Carcinogenesis


astronaut Akihiko Hoshide poses for a photo
Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide poses for a photo after undergoing a generic blood draw in the European Laboratory/Columbus Orbital Facility (COF).

Increased radiation exposure in the spaceflight environment outside of low-Earth orbit may contribute to an increased risk of developing cancer later in an astronaut’s life. Shielding is effective against some radiation exposure, such as solar particle events (SPE) but does not mitigate Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR) exposure.  Primary contributors to development of cancer later in life are dependent on mission parameters and duration, solar conditions, body structures present, individual radiosensitivity, and age at exposure. The effects of other sources of uncertainty that may modify radiation risk (e.g., secondary spaceflight hazards) are being characterized but cannot be estimated or integrated currently. Terrestrial cancer therapies continue to progress and may be able to mitigate cancer outcomes. There is not currently thought to be a notable risk of a crewmember developing clinically detectable cancer during a mission due to spaceflight exposure.

Blood samples taken by former NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy
Blood samples taken by former NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy before aboard the International Space Station. Samples like these were taken before and after astronaut’s missions to space to measure radiation damage of astronauts in space.

Directed Acyclic Graph Files

+ DAG File Information (HSRB Home Page)

+ Radiation Carcinogenesis DAG and Narrative (PDF)

+ Radiation Carcinogenesis Risk DAG Code (TXT)

Human Research Roadmap

+ Risk of Radiation Carcinogenesis

+ 2016 April Evidence Report (MSWord)



Last Updated
Sep 26, 2023
Robert E. Lewis