"Small proportion" of second cancers caused by radiotherapy, study shows

31 March 2011

Fears that radiation can cause a second cancer have been stemmed by a report published in the Lancet this week.

A study conducted by Dr Amy Berrington De Gonzalez found that a relatively small proportion of second cancers were related to previous radiotherapy treatment, and most could be attributed to other factors.

The study discovered that less than eight per cent of patients who had received radiotherapy developed a second cancer related to the treatment after one year of treatment.

Within 15 years of diagnosis, only five in 1,000 patients had developed radiotherapy-related second cancer.

Dr Amy Berrington de Gonzalez said: "Improvements in cancer survival have made the long-term risks from treatments more important, including the risk of developing a second cancer after radiotherapy.

"We aimed to estimate the proportion of second cancers attributable to radiotherapy in adults with data from the US Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) cancer registries."

During radiotherapy treatment side effects can include tiredness, weakness and hair loss in the treatment area.


Posted by Edward Bartel


1.Berrington De Gonzalez, Dr Amy et al. "Proportion of second cancers attributable to radiotherapy treatment in adults: a cohort study in the US SEER cancer registries." The Lancet Oncology. Wednesday, March 30th 2011.



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