Tumors in the contralateral breast following radiation therapy for breast cancer

Marilyn Stovall, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The proportional distribution of independent malignant tumors in the contralateral breast following treatment for breast cancer was investigated to assess the influence of scattered radiation as a cause of these tumors. In a population of 172 patients the proportion of contralateral tumors in each quadrant and the center (the nipple-areolar complex) was compared with the expected, or natural, distribution found in the general population, in the absence of radiation. The observed/expected ratio for contralateral tumors was 1.43 for the upper-inner quadrant; 0.97, lower-inner quadrant; 1.51, center; 0.76, upper-outer quadrant; and 0.64, lower-outer quadrant. In each quadrant, except the lower-inner, the observed/expected ratio differed from 1.00 with statistical significance at the 5% level (one-tail). The same analysis, stratified by age and menopausal status, showed a similar shift of tumors, with more than expected in the inner quadrants and center and less than expected in the outer quadrants, although the results did not show statistical significance at the 5% level for all strata. For each patient the mean absorbed radiation dose for each quadrant and center of the breast was estimated, based on measurements in a tissue-equivalent phantom. Among patients the doses ranged from 0.5 to 8 Gy; within individuals, doses to the inner quadrants typically were a factor of three times higher than doses to the outer quadrants. The results suggest that radiation may be a risk factor for contralateral breast tumors and warrants further investigation.

Subject Area

Radiology|Public health|Oncology|Biophysics

Recommended Citation

Stovall, Marilyn, "Tumors in the contralateral breast following radiation therapy for breast cancer" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9736147.