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Radiotherapy for breast cancer raises risk for thyroid cancer

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Women who have radiotherapy for breast cancer are far more likely to develop thyroid cancer within five years, a new study has discovered.

The risk should be explained to women before they begin treatment, and they should be regularly screened afterwards, say researchers from Columbia University in New York.

Radiation to the head, neck or chest is already a known risk factor for thyroid cancer, but the researchers were surprised by the number of women who developed it after treatment.

In an analysis of a database that recorded the number of patients with breast or thyroid cancer that were diagnosed between 1973 and 2011, the researchers discovered that 704,402 patients had breast cancer, 49,663 had thyroid cancer and 1,526 developed thyroid cancer after a breast cancer diagnosis.

(Source: Proceedings of the 97th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, San Diego, March 7, 2015)

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