NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women who survived childhood cancer have an increased risk of developing breast cancer compared with other women their age, the results of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study reveal.
While the risk appears to be highest among those treated with chest radiation therapy, women who were not given radiation also have a higher risk compared with the general population.
“Women who survived childhood cancer and had sarcoma, chest irradiation, family history of breast cancer, or personal history of thyroid disease should consider early, vigilant screening for breast cancer,” Dr. Lisa B. Kenney and colleagues recommend in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The team studied some 6000 women who were treated for cancer before age 21 and who survived for at least 5 years. Ninety-five women had breast cancer at an average age of 35 years. Of 23 women who did not survive, 15 died of breast cancer.
For those who had been treated with chest radiation, the risk of developing breast cancer was almost 25 times higher than for the general population. For the 20 subjects who had not been treated with chest radiation, it was almost 5 times higher.
“Secondary breast cancer risk should be assessed in all young women who are childhood cancer survivors,” Kenney’s group concludes.