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Young Women Who Receive Radiation for Breast Cancer at Risk of Cancer in Other Breast

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology says that young women receiving radiation after having surgery for breast cancer are at increased risk of developing a new tumor in the opposite breast.  The risk is even greater if the woman also has a significant family history of breast cancer.According to the study, women diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast have three to four times the risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast.
The risk of contralateral breast cancer was also greatest when three or more family members had a history of breast cancer, indicating that some of the women in the study might have the risk-raising BRCA1 or 2 genetic mutations. These mutations weren't tested for in the study.

Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La. suggested that this study was not very relevant because it examined old radiation techniques.

Athor Maartje J. Hooning, at Erasmus Medical Center Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, said that even though radiation techniques have a lower dose to the contralateral breast than the techniques in the study, doctors should be aware of the dose-response relationship for risk of contralateral breast cancer. Especially in young women, the radiation dose to the opposite breast should be kept as low as possible.