Primary lung cancer after breast cancer: The role of radiation therapy and cigarette smoking

Melissa Belle Ford, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The magnitude of the interaction between cigarette smoking, radiation therapy, and primary lung cancer after breast cancer remains unresolved. This case control study further examines the main and joint effects of cigarette smoking and radiation therapy (XRT) among breast cancer patients who subsequently developed primary lung cancer, at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston, Texas. Cases (n = 280) were women diagnosed with primary lung cancer between 1955 and 1970, between 30–89 years of age, who had a prior history of breast cancer, and were U.S. residents. Controls (n = 300) were randomly selected from 37,000 breast cancer patients at MDACC and frequency matched to cases on age at diagnosis (in 5-year strata), ethnicity, year of breast cancer diagnosis (in 5-year strata), and had survived at least as long as the time interval for lung cancer diagnosis in the cases. Stratified analysis and unconditional logistic regression modeling were used to calculate the main and joint effects of cigarette smoking and radiation treatment on lung cancer risk. Medical record review yielded smoking information on 93% of cases and 84% of controls, and among cases 45% received XRT versus 44% of controls. Smoking increased the odds of lung cancer in women who did not receive XRT (OR = 6.0, 95%CI, 3.5–10.1) whereas XRT was not associated with increased odds (OR = 0.5, 95%CI, 0.2–1.1) in women who did not smoke. Overall the odds ratio for both XRT and smoking together compared with neither exposure was 9.00 (9 5% CI, 5.1–15.9). Similarly, when stratifying on laterality of the lung cancer in relation to the breast cancer, and when the time interval between breast and lung cancers was >10 years, there was an increased odds for both smoking and XRT together for lung cancers on the same side as the breast cancer (ipsilateral) (OR = 11.5, 95% CI, 4.9–27.8) and lung cancers on the opposite side of the breast cancer (contralateral) (OR= 9.6, 95% CI, 2.9–0.9). After 20 years the odds for the ipsilateral lung were even more pronounced (OR = 19.2, 95% CI, 4.2–88.4) compared to the contralateral lung (OR = 2.6, 95% CI, 0.2–2.1). In conclusion, smoking was a significant independent risk factor for lung cancer after breast cancer. Moreover, a greater than multiplicative effect was observed with smoking and XRT combined being especially evident after 10 years for both the ipsilateral and contralateral lung and after 20 years for the ipsilateral lung.

Subject Area

Oncology|Public health|Biophysics

Recommended Citation

Ford, Melissa Belle, "Primary lung cancer after breast cancer: The role of radiation therapy and cigarette smoking" (2000). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9981810.