Focal Brain Radiation Therapy
An individual who has undergone focal brain radiation therapy is at a greater risk of developing cavernous malformations than someone who has not. Focal brain radiation therapy is a method of treatment for certain types of cancerous and benign tumors that develop in the brain. Radiation therapy uses potent beams of energy that contain x-rays or particles to destroy or damage the DNA of cancerous cells. However, these beams can also affect the DNA of healthy cells surrounding the tissue being treated.
When healthy cells are affected by radiation beams, mutations can occur as a result of the treatment or the body's attempt at repairing the damage from the treatment. A cavernous malformation can develop due to a somatic mutation that occurs in a single cell damaged by focal brain radiation therapy. Somatic mutation is a change in the DNA of a single cell that can be passed on to daughter cells when the cell undergoes cell division. These mutated cells can continue to reproduce and cause the development of a cavernous malformation. The average duration between radiation therapy and the diagnosis of cavernous malformation is around twelve years.