View Full Version : Breast Cancer due to radiation exposure?

03-08-2011, 11:32 AM
I was just wondering if breast cancer is more common among us scoli people due to repeated radiation exposure? I've read on some other threads that some of you have battled breast cancer - and thankfully won! I'm having a biopsy today and just thought about all of the unprotected x-rays I've had throughout the years, yes it listed that as a risk factor. Any insight?

03-08-2011, 03:31 PM
I don't know rohrer, but want to wish you well. I've had a biopsy too (years before surgery) and it was fine. Let us know how you go.

03-08-2011, 08:42 PM
It's been awhile, but there have been other threads on the topic. You might want to do a search using the link above.

Hope your biopsy is negative.


03-08-2011, 09:00 PM
rohrer - wishing you the best for a clean biopsy. cancer is fairly multi factorial, where have we heard that phrase before eh? While radiation is a risk factor, it is also used for curative purposes, to kill cancer cells. If you search you can even find recent study supporting vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for the progression of several cancers, including colorectal, melanoma, lung and breast cancer. Hopefully all who must be exposed to xray due to scoliosis, go to facilities that use proper shielding to help reduce any risk involved. Everybody is different and i guess that would mean everyone responds differently to exposure. Keeping you in my prayers.

Karen Ocker
03-08-2011, 10:11 PM
As Linda mentioned there have been other posts about this and I remember studies suggesting a higher incidence in persons with scoliosis. In my case, since the scoliosis began around age 11, that's when I began the x-ray monitoring. I never had breast shielding, x-rays may have given higher doses, had more "scatter" and that is the time when breasts are developing.

I did not want radiation for my recent early breast CA because it would negatively impact my breathing capacity and I would still need mammos ultrasounds and MRIs the rest of my life. I also figured in my mind that since I grew cancer in one breast I would be capable of growing it in the other. I elected a bilateral simple mastectomy with reconstruction. Fortunately I had negative nodes and was stage 1 but I had a total of 3 breast tumors.
In the lab they found another cancer in the opposite "good" breast!!!! This did not show up aon any diagnostoc test and was not felt as was none of my other tumors.

My other strong risk factor was 8 years of hormone replacement therapy. I actually didn't want it but, because of the scoliosis, the doctors urged it. Now science says it doesn't really help bone that much and causes earlier dementia, strokes and cardiac disease!!! That is why the large Nurses Study was aborted before it was scheduled to be completed.

My vit D levels were very good the last 8 years because my bone doctor monitors this regularly.

03-08-2011, 10:13 PM
My local surgeon said that studies have NOT shown a higher incidence of cancer among scoliosis patients. But just to make sure, I would insist on the protective coverings! (Wish I'd know about those when I was a teen.)


Karen Ocker
03-08-2011, 10:46 PM
Cancer mortality among women frequently exposed to radiographic examinations for spinal disorders.
Ronckers CM, Land CE, Miller JS, Stovall M, Lonstein JE, Doody MM.

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20852, USA.

We studied cancer mortality in a cohort of 5,573 women with scoliosis and other spine disorders who were diagnosed between 1912 and 1965 and were exposed to frequent diagnostic X-ray procedures. Patients were identified from medical records in 14 orthopedic medical centers in the United States and followed for vital status and address through December 31, 2004, using publicly available regional, state and nationwide databases. Causes of death were obtained from death certificates or through linkage with the National Death Index (NDI). Statistical analyses included standardized mortality ratios (SMR = observed/expected) based on death rates for U.S. females and internal comparisons using Cox regression models with attained age as the time scale. Diagnostic radiation exposure was estimated from radiology files for over 137,000 procedures; estimated average cumulative radiation doses to the breast, lung, thyroid and bone marrow were 10.9, 4.1, 7.4 and 1.0 cGy, respectively. After a median follow-up period of 47 years, 1527 women died, including 355 from cancer. Cancer mortality was 8% higher than expected (95% CI = 0.97-1.20). Mortality from breast cancer was significantly elevated (SMR = 1.68; 95% CI: 1.38-2.02), whereas death rates from several other cancers were below expectation, in particular lung (SMR = 0.77), cervical (SMR = 0.31), and liver (SMR = 0.17). The excess relative risk (ERR) for breast cancer mortality increased significantly with 10-year lagged radiation dose to the breast (ERR/Gy = 3.9; 95% CI: 1.0-9.3).

PMID: 20681802 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Karen Ocker
03-08-2011, 10:53 PM
J Natl Cancer Inst. 1989 Sep 6;81(17):1307-12.

Breast cancer in women with scoliosis exposed to multiple diagnostic x rays.
Hoffman DA, Lonstein JE, Morin MM, Visscher W, Harris BS 3rd, Boice JD Jr.

Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA.

Although exposure to ionizing radiation is a recognized risk factor for breast cancer, the potential hazard from low-dose, fractionated exposures during early breast development has not been thoroughly evaluated. Women with scoliosis represent a valuable population for studying this issue because they are exposed to multiple diagnostic x rays during childhood and adolescence, times when the breast may be highly sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of radiation. A study was conducted of 1,030 women with scoliosis who were seen at four Minneapolis area medical facilities between 1935 and 1965. The average age at diagnosis was 12.3 years; 60% of the women had idiopathic scoliosis. Individual x-ray films were counted and the number per patient ranged from 0 to 618 films (mean, 41.5). On average, the x-ray exposures were given over an 8.7-year period. Ninety percent of the women were located, of whom over 92% responded to a mail questionnaire or telephone interview. The average period of observation was 26 years. Overall, 11 cases of breast cancer were reported, compared with six expected (standardized incidence ratio = 1.82, 90% confidence interval = 1.0-3.0). Excess risk increased with time since exposure and was highest among those followed for more than 30 years (standardized incidence ratio = 2.4). Risk also increased with the number of x rays and with the estimated radiation dose to the breast (mean, 13 rad). These data suggest that frequent exposure to low-level diagnostic radiation during childhood or adolescence may increase the risk of breast cancer.

PMID: 2769783 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


03-09-2011, 01:32 AM
Thank you all so much for your concern and information. I will know the results of my biopsy either tomorrow or Thursday. I have been having x-ray exposure including a CT scan since I was 16 years old. No one has ever shielded my breasts and my female organs were shielded only a couple of times. It's something to highly consider for those who have young adolescents having multiple x-rays. The experiences of so many of you has helped me to face this challenge with courage regardless of the outcome. Thank you all for your support and well wishes.

03-09-2011, 04:41 AM
just wanted to note that the studies about hormones and cancer are all done with synthetic hormones...
to date i believe there have been no studies done with bio identical hormones...
which are different, despite what the large pharmaceutical companies would have people believe..

rohr you are in my thoughts and prayers today!


03-09-2011, 05:37 PM
No cancer! Whew, that was scary. Thanks again for all the info and support. ((((HUGS))))

03-09-2011, 06:00 PM
that is fantastic! really...so very relieved for you!


03-09-2011, 06:53 PM
Awesome news! You must feel so relieved. =)