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Radiation for Hodgkin’s Linked to Increased Mortality

Last Updated: May 19, 2011.

Although breast cancer may be diagnosed earlier, women with a history of radiation therapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma are more likely to have bilateral breast cancer, and die due to other causes, according to a study published online May 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

THURSDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- Although breast cancer may be diagnosed earlier, women with a history of radiation therapy (RT) for Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) are more likely to have bilateral breast cancer, and die due to other causes, according to a study published online May 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Elena B. Elkin, Ph.D., from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues compared the characteristics and outcomes of breast cancer in women with and without a history of RT for HL. A total of 253 women with breast cancer, diagnosed between 1980 and 2006, who had undergone RT for HL an average of 18 years earlier, were matched by age, race, and year of diagnosis with 741 women with sporadic breast cancer. Patient, tumor, treatment, and clinical outcome data were extracted from medical records.

The investigators found that women treated with RT for HL had an increased risk of metachronous contralateral breast cancer (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 4.3) and any-cause death (adjusted HR, 1.9). Breast cancer after RT for HL had an increased likelihood of detection by screening, diagnosis at an earlier stage, and being bilateral. The difference in breast cancer-specific mortality between the two groups was not statistically significant.

"In women with a history of RT for HL, breast cancer is diagnosed at an earlier stage, but these women are at greater risk for bilateral disease and are more likely to die as a result of causes other than breast cancer," the authors write.

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