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Children Treated with Radiation Therapy Have Higher Risk of Getting Cancer as Adults

Update Date: Jun 06, 2012 06:23 PM EDT
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A study has revealed that girls who undergo radiation therapy in childhood due to cancer are more prone to contact breast cancer later in life.

For the study, data of 1200 women who had cancer and were treated with radiation in their childhood were analyzed.

The results revealed that 24% of the women were found to have been diagnozed with breast cancer by the age of 50. And the amount of radiation doses was also found to be directly proportional to the risk of the women contracting cancer later in life.

"We find that by age 50, approximately 30 percent of women treated with radiation for Hodgkin lymphoma as girls have developed breast cancer," said Chaya Moskowitz, a biostatistician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and the lead researcher in the present study.

"We need to know how to take care of survivors and change childhood cancer therapies, so this doesn't happen to the next group of survivors. Children treated for Hodgkin lymphoma today are treated with therapies that try to maintain the excellent cure rates but use as little radiation as possible," said Lisa Diller of Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, to USA Today.

"These are rather striking data. We have an obligation to those many thousands and thousands of young women we treated years ago. Hopefully this will increase our awareness of [the] need for mammogram screening of this population," said Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang of the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada in Las Vegas and US Oncology, to WebMD. Vogelzang was not part of the study.

Also, a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine says that children who receive radiations on their abdomen, are prone to developing gastrointestinal cancers later in life.

Read the abstract of the study here.

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