Could the radiation a woman receives for breast cancer be putting her at higher risk for subsequent development of lung cancer?
Studies finds women who underwent simple mastectomy and radiotherapy for their cancer were more likely than those who had a radical mastectomy and no radiotherapy to later develop lung cancer. However, no difference in subsequent lung cancer rates were noted among a group of women who had breast conserving lumpectomies and radiotherapy when compared with women who had lumpectomies alone or mastectomies alone.
A study was done, using data from women taking part in two large clinical trials. In the first, women who underwent radical mastectomies without radiation were compared to those who underwent simple mastectomies with radiation. In the second study, women who had mastectomies and no radiation were compared to those who had lumpectomies and no radiation and those who had lumpectomies plus radiation.
The researchers believe the higher doses and greater volumes of the lung exposed to radiation in the first study may have led to the higher incidence of lung cancer seen in the group of women who underwent radiation.
As more and more research suggests benefits for radiation after breast cancer surgery, an increasing number of women are being exposed to radiation that also affects the chest wall and lungs. Some studies have hinted such exposure could lead to greater risk of lung cancer, but little specific research exists to confirm those findings.