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Exposure to diagnostic radiation and risk of breast cancer among carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations: retrospective cohort study (GENE-RAD-RISK)

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e5660 (Published 06 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5660

Rapid Response:

Re: Exposure to diagnostic radiation and risk of breast cancer among carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations: retrospective cohort study (GENE-RAD-RISK)

Exposure to diagnostic radiation has been cited as one of the predisposing factors to breast cancer. Age at the time of exposure has been shown to influence the differential development of breast cancer with children and adolescents having a higher chance (Neighmond, 2012). Radiography uses rays (radioactive) that have harmful impact on organs, tissues and cells. X-ray radiography, fluoroscopy and mammography may have negative effects in various ways. Firstly, they may cause mutation of cells leading to alteration of even the genes. Secondly, radiation has carcinogenic properties. This means that cancer cells may develop following exposure to radiation (Neighmond, 2012). The age at which radiation is administered may influence development of breast cancer; with children and adolescents having a higher risk than older women (>30 years). Individuals with BRCA1/2 have increased sensitivity and therefore stand a higher risk as mentioned in this study.

In this study the Authors explore our current understanding behind radiation exposure and risk of breast cancer. In my opinion, the results boost the existing evidence.

It should however be highlighted the limitations of the study: recall bias, as acknowledged by the Authors. It is also not clear from the report how the rate of non participation can affect the result with an intention to treat analysis. I agree with the Authors that the large sample is an important strength of the study.

Reference:
1.Neighmond, P. (2012). X-Ray Tests May Heighten Cancer Risk In Susceptible Women. Retrieved on September 8 2012 from: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/09/06/160708989/x-ray-tests-may-hei...

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 September 2012
paulin ngongang
senior house officer
hwel Dda Nhs Trust
prince philp hospital