Bone marrow damage is an important consequence of exposure to acute high-dose whole-body radiation. As such, haematologists can play an important role in managing this complication. However, these accident and incident scenarios are complex and often involve injuries to other organs and tissues from heat, projectiles and chemicals. In the case of a large-scale event there will likely be severe infrastructure disruptions and injury or death to medical personnel. Accurate estimates of dose and uniformity of exposure are needed to intelligently direct appropriate interventions, which range from antibiotics, antifungals and anti-virus drugs, molecularly-cloned haematopoietic growth factors and, in rare instances, haematopoietic cell transplants. These therapies are ones that haematologists often use in the context of anti-cancer therapy, especially therapy of haematological cancers like leukaemia. However, most haematologists have little knowledge of radiation biology and should consider updating this aspect of their expertise in continuing medical education. As in other areas of medicine, prevention is better than cure and haematologists should be active in decreasing risks of a nuclear war.
- emergency response to radiological incidents
- nuclear accidents
- radiological accidents
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