Chest radiation to treat Wilms tumor may increase risk for developing breast cancer

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According to a new study published online in the journal Cancer, children who underwent chest radiation for the treatment of Wilms tumor may have an increased risk for developing breast cancer in the future as a result of their radiation exposure.

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Research Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington, sought to investigate whether or not a child's radiation exposure affects her risk for developing breast cancer later in life. The team identified nearly 2,500 patients who had been treated for Wilms tumor, a rare childhood kidney cancer that can metastasize to the lungs, during their childhood and who had lived until at least age 15.

Of those, over 20% developed breast cancer, 75% of which were invasive and 25% were non-invasive, by age 40. Only 0.3% of patients who did not receive chest radiation went on to develop breast cancer. In addition, 4% of patients who received abdominal, but not chest, radiation for the treatment of their Wilms tumor developed breast cancer by age 40.

The results shows that females receiving chest radiation are 30 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those of comparable age in the general population.

Disclosing a diagnosis to children: Tell or not tell?
Children who underwent chest radiation may have an increased risk for developing breast cancer.

A new study has found that patients who received chest radiation for Wilms tumor, a rare childhood cancer, face an increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life due to their radiation exposure. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings suggest that cancer screening guidelines might be re-evaluated to facilitate the early diagnosis and prompt treatment of breast cancer among Wilms tumor survivors.

Wilms tumor is a rare childhood kidney cancer that can spread to the lungs. When this spread occurs, patients receive a relatively low dose of 12-14 Gray of radiation therapy to the entire chest.

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