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Breast cancer risk among the survivors of atomic bomb and patients exposed to therapeutic ionising radiation.

Radiation induced breast cancer is a highly complex phenomenon, which most likely involves the accumulation of several genetic and epigenetic events. Studies of atomic bomb survivors, patients who underwent multiple fluoroscopic examinations during treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis, those who received therapeutic radiation for benign breast disease, such as acute post-partum mastitis, or those with an enlarged thymus or skin haemangioma and patients with Hodgkin's disease treated by mantle radiotherapy established that the risk of breast cancer increases with exposure to ionising radiation. The carcinogenic effect of therapeutic or accidental radiation is highest when exposure occurs during childhood and exposure after age 40 imparts low or minimal risk. The risk of bilateral breast cancer is not significantly increased in the survivors of atomic bomb and therapeutic radiations. Fractionated exposures for therapeutic radiation are similar to a single exposure of the same total dose in their ability to induce breast cancer; this risk remains high for many years after exposure. Younger age at first full term pregnancy confers a protective effect against the risk of breast cancer in the survivors of atomic bomb but long-term data on this beneficial effect after therapeutic radiation is not available.

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