Skip to content


    Attention All WebMD Community Members:

    These message boards are closed to posting. Please head on over to our new WebMD Message Boards to check out and participate in the great conversations taking place:

    Your new WebMD Message Boards are now open!

    Making the move is as easy as 1-2-3.

    1.Head over to this page:

    2.Choose the tag from the drop-down menu that clicks most with you (and add it to any posts you create so others can easily find and sort through posts)

    3.Start posting

    Have questions? Email us anytime at

    Maximum Lifetime Radiation Dosage?
    VinnyM69 posted:
    What is the maximum dosage of radiation your body can tolerate over a lifetime? The reason I ask is I had testicular cancer in 1978 and had surgery and 3000 RAD's of radiation over 20 treatments for that. I was diagnosed in 2000 with prostate cancer and had a RRP. Now 8 years later my PSA is rising again and I am being referred by my Urologist to a Radiation Oncologist to possibly have radiation therapy. All this is dependent on how much radiation I had back in 1978, which I didn't know at the time I had my appt with my Urologist. I've since gotten my old records and am just curious if I will even be a candidate for radiation given my previous dosage (3000 RADS). I'm in the VA health care system and am still waiting for them to schedule my appt with the RO.

    Thanks for any help.
    Galileo1962 responded:
    3000 rads isn't much when looking at radiation treatment. I had 70.2 gy ("grays")during my treatment, which comes out to 7020 rads, over twice what you received in 1978. Other people get higher dosages. Plus I've had several CT scans.

    However, radiation therapy today is much more precise than in 1978, and radiation oncologists can spare a lot of healthy tissue that they could not avoid 30 years ago.

    I'm not sure that there IS a safe lifetime limit when talking about therapeutic radiation. For example, in my case, I know that even with IMRT, my chance of colorectal and bladder cancer has probably increased somewhat. 70.2 grays is not without risk, but it would seem to be worth it in risk/return analysis--a real but small chance of developing another cancer from the radiation vs. a very large chance (50-70%) of curing my prostate cancer.

    There has been some recent discussion of safe lifetime limits to diagnostic radiation, especially CT scans. You can find those articles on PubMed.

    I'm not a doctor. That said, I would not be overly concerned with issue of lifetime exposure to radiation, especially since the previous dosage was relatively low, so long ago, and likely to a different area of the body. I would be more concerned about the likelihood of success of salvage radiotherapy and the possible side effects. I HIGHLY doubt the radiation oncologist will disqualify you based on previous radiation.

    Looking at your medical record, did you have positive or negative surgical margins? What was your Gleason and what's your PSA now? What was your PSA at the time of surgery? Did you have lymph node or seminal vesicle invasion? Those are factors your radiation oncologist will weigh when deciding whether or not you are a good candidate.

    Best wishes.
    VinnyM69 responded:
    Thanks for the reply Galileo.

    I received notice in the mail today that my RO appointment with the VA has been scheduled for Oct. 21st, so I'm sure I'll find out more then. To answer some of your questions about my history. The margins were negative, Gleason was 7, PSA now is .8 and I believe it was 5 something at time of surgery (I've requested my records from the surgeon seeing as I don't have a copy). First PSA after surgery was
    tinker responded:

    Don't get mixed up with the maximum dose for people who work with radiation at nuclear power plants and other such exosure, if you research on the net. These will be much lower than medical use. Also, there is a very large consideration of time, so much in a day, or month or year. These counts are to protect the worker from an unknown, although they have been lowered over the last couple of decades. I worked at a nuclear plant, but not in the radiation control group so i do not remember the numbers.

    Take Care - Tinkr / Bob
    henry11 replied to VinnyM69's response:
    PSA of 0.8 is still very low for your age. I would not jump into more radiation treatment before cancer is confirmed.

    Helpful Tips

    Have you tried better toilet posture?
    There is a great new product on the market aimed at improving colon health by correcting the anorectal angle and making elimination easier ... More
    Was this Helpful?
    2 of 2 found this helpful

    Related Drug Reviews

    • Drug Name User Reviews

    Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

    FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

    For more information, visit the Duke Health Prostate Cancer Center