If the women were younger than 30 when they received the treatment their relative risk was even higher at eight times the normal risk. If the spleen had been removed from these younger women as part of the treatment (splenectomy), then they faced a ten times higher relative risk than the general population, while a family history of breast cancer increased their chances of developing the disease 11-fold above the general population. This risk is so high that the professor said these women might want to consider prophylactic double mastectomy.
However, Prof Wahner-Roedler, assistant professor and consultant in Internal Medicine and Breast Clinic at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, USA, said that radiotherapy techniques have improved in recent years and she would expect the risk to have decreased with modern treatments.
Prof Wahner-Roedler and her colleagues reviewed the records of 2,202 women with Hodgkins Disease who were seen at Mayo Clinic between 1950 and 1993 and studied the records of 653 women, who were treated at the Mayo Clinic with supradiaphragmatic radiation therapy (SDRT)1. Four patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer prior to the diagnosis of Hodgkins Disease were excluded from the analysis. They found that 30 women had developed breast cancer, of whom four had developed cancer at different times in both breasts.
They found that the relative risk, expressed as SMR (standard morbidity ratio)2, of developing breast cancer increased significantly after 15 years of follow-up and that this increase continued through 30 years of follow-up.
Women aged 30 and over at the time of SDRT had only a slightly higher than normal relative risk of developing br
Contact: Emma Mason
Federation of European Cancer Societies