Some female childhood cancer survivors at higher risk of breast cancer

July 1, 2012

A new study indicates that some female cancer survivors develop breast cancer as a consequence of radiation exposure.

Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have found that 24% of women treated with chest radiation as children develop breast cancer by age 50. The research was presented at the 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago in early June.

Data for the study were analyzed from more than 1,200 female childhood cancer survivors participating in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study as well as 4,570 female first-degree relatives (mothers, sisters, and daughters) of women participating in the international Women's Environmental Cancer and Radiation Epidemiology (WECARE) Study.

The risk from chest radiation is comparable to that in women who have mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Mutations in these genes have been associated with a significant increased risk of developing breast cancer before age 50.