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Past Radiotherapy for Acne May Raise Breast Cancer Risk

All women treated for acne with this method should be monitored closely

THURSDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Women with skin cancer who have been treated with radiotherapy for acne, a common treatment in the past, have a higher risk of developing breast cancer compared with their counterparts who were not exposed to radiotherapy, according to study findings published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Although the study included only skin cancer patients, any woman who received such treatment may be at higher breast cancer risk, the authors suggest.

Hazem El-Gamal, M.D., of Charlotte Dermatology in Charlotte, N.C., and Richard G. Bennett, M.D., of the University of California Los Angeles, conducted a study of 244 women with skin cancer who had received radiotherapy to treat acne, and 244 age-matched controls with skin cancer.

There was a 15 percent prevalence of breast cancer among the radiotherapy group, compared with a 6.6 percent prevalence among the controls, an odds ratio of 2.5. There was a correlation between breast cancer and radiotherapy that occurred before 1950, or when the patient was younger than age 20, or when the patient received five or more sessions of acne treatment.

"Radiotherapy for benign conditions, especially skin diseases, was once commonly used…as late as 1975, 41.8 percent of U.S. and Canadian dermatologists reported using superficial radiotherapy for acne," the authors write. "Although our cohort consisted of women with skin cancer, all women previously treated for acne with radiotherapy should be identified and closely monitored for subsequent breast cancer development," they conclude.

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