Research news: March 2009
Female survivors of childhood cancers treated with radiotherapy to the chest have a high risk of breast cancer. Guidelines recommend yearly screening with mammography, magnetic resonance imaging, or both from early adulthood, but a questionnaire survey from the US shows that few women are actually getting it. Among 551 respondents with a history of chest radiotherapy only 55% (303/551) reported having had a mammogram in the past two years. Few women under 40 reported having had regular mammograms (53/296; 18.6%), and 47.3% (140/296) had never had one.
The authors surveyed a random sample from an established cohort of survivors of childhood cancer. Participants were well motivated and received regular newsletters on health topics, including cancer screening. Cancer survivors in the general population are even less likely to have regular mammograms, say the authors. Many doctors may be unaware of the risks associated with radiation to the chest and