Radiation Therapy Saves Lives, but Not Without Risk

Scott Jerome-Parks died at 43 after a linear accelerator delivered radiation treatments that were seven times the strength he was prescribed to receive. As a result, he spent two years losing his sight, hearing and ability to swallow, and endured the pain of internal burns caused by the extra radiation. Jerome-Parks's parents, James and Donna Parks, went to Capitol Hill today to tell their son's story.

"It is a horrible way to die," said James Parks. "What was a minimally invasive procedure turned out to be a two-year nightmare for the whole family. ... I think what ultimately killed Scott, it's human errors."

Such accidents are considered rare, but experts say patients should ask their doctors whether tests or treatments using radiation are really needed. If they are, they should be done using the lowest radiation levels possible and a doctor should check the dose actually given through a patient's therapy.

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