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Breast Cancer Radiation Can Lead to Lung Cancer: Study

By    |   Tuesday, 08 April 2014 04:44 PM

Women who undergo radiation therapy for breast cancer have a small but significantly increased risk of later developing tumors in their lungs, according to new research.
The study, presented at a meeting of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology in Vienna this week, showed that the lung cancer risk rises with the amount of radiation absorbed by the tissue during breast treatments.
"We found that for each [treatment] delivered to the lung as part of radiotherapy for a breast tumor, the relative risk of developing a subsequent primary lung cancer increased. This increased risk was similar to the reported increased risk of heart disease after radiotherapy for breast cancer," said Trine Grantzau, M.D., a doctor in the department of experimental clinical oncology at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.
"Our findings suggest that any reduction in the dose of radiation to the lung would result in a reduction in the risk of radiation-induced subsequent lung cancers. With the advances in breast cancer treatment and the introduction of breast cancer screening, a growing number of women are becoming long-term survivors, and so we need to have an increased awareness of treatment-induced second cancers and take steps to reduce those risks by using radiotherapy techniques that spare normal tissue as much as possible."
For the study, Dr. Grantzau and her colleagues investigated the incidence of primary lung cancers — not a secondary tumor that has spread from the original breast cancer — in 23,627 women in Denmark who had been treated with radiotherapy for early breast cancer between 1982 and 2007.

About 151 (0.6 percent) of the women were diagnosed with a new lung cancer and they were compared with 443 women who had not developed lung cancer. The results showed the risk of developing lung cancer was small, but increased by 8.5 percent among those receiving high doses of radiation.
"These results show that the risk of … lung cancer after radiotherapy in early breast cancer patients is associated with the delivered dose to the lung," said Dr Grantzau.
"It is, however, important to place the risk of getting a radiation-induced second lung cancer in a perspective that is balanced with the known benefits of radiotherapy in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer. Post-operative radiotherapy in breast cancer patients decreases the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence and improves overall survival. The challenge for radiation oncologists is to reduce the delivered dose of radiotherapy in a way that minimizes the dose to the normal tissue to avoid radiation-induced malignancies, without compromising its efficacy in the cancerous breast tissue."

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Radiation therapy for breast cancer can pose a small but significantly increased risk of developing tumors in the lungs later in life, according to new research.
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 04:44 PM
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