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Second malignancies in breast cancer patients following radiotherapy: a study in Florence, Italy

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Colin Muirhead



INTRODUCTION: Patients diagnosed with breast cancer are often treated with surgery followed by radiation therapy. In this paper, we evaluate the effect that radiotherapy may have had on the subsequent risk of second malignancies, including the possible influences of age at treatment and menopausal status. METHODS: In order to evaluate the long-term consequences of radiotherapy, a cohort study was conducted based on clinical records for 5,248 women treated for breast cancer in Florence (Italy), with continuous follow-up from 1965 to 1994. The Cox proportional hazards model for ungrouped survival data was used to estimate the relative risk for second cancer after radiotherapy. RESULTS: This study indicated an increased relative risk of all second cancers combined following radiotherapy (1.22, 95% CI: 0.88 to 1.69). The increased relative risk appeared five or more years after radiotherapy and appeared to be highest amongst women treated after the menopause (1.61, 95% CI: 1.13 to 2.29). Increased relative risks were observed specifically for leukaemia (8.13, 95% CI: 0.96 to 69.1) and other solid cancers (1.84, 95% CI: 1.06 to 3.16), excluding contralateral breast cancer. For contralateral breast cancer, no raised relative risk was observed during the period more than five years after radiotherapy. CONCLUSIONS: The study indicated a raised risk of second malignancies associated with radiotherapy for breast cancer, particularly for women treated after the menopause.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zhang W, Becciolini A, Biggeri A, Pacini P, Muirhead CR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Breast Cancer Research

Year: 2011

Volume: 13

Issue: 2

Print publication date: 04/04/2011

Date deposited: 18/11/2011

ISSN (print): 1465-5411

ISSN (electronic): 1465-542X

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.


DOI: 10.1186/bcr2860


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