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Cancer Risk From Radiation of Mammograms Is Slight: Study
Date:11/16/2010

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- The potential cancer risk that radiation from mammograms might cause is slight compared to the benefits of lives saved from early detection, new Canadian research says.

The study is published online and will appear in the January 2011 print issue of Radiology.

This risk of radiation-induced breast cancers "is mentioned periodically by women and people who are critiquing screening [and how often it should be done and in whom]," said study author Dr. Martin J. Yaffe, a senior scientist in imaging research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and a professor in the departments of medical biophysics and medical imaging at the University of Toronto.

"This study says that the good obtained from having a screening mammogram far exceeds the risk you might have from the radiation received from the low-dose mammogram," said Dr. Arnold J. Rotter, chief of the computed tomography section and a clinical professor of radiology at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Duarte, Calif.

Yaffe and his colleague, Dr. James G. Mainprize, developed a mathematical model to estimate the risk of radiation-induced breast cancer following exposure to radiation from mammograms, and then estimated the number of breast cancers, fatal breast cancers and years of life lost attributable to the mammography's screening radiation.

They plugged into the model a typical radiation dose for digital mammography, 3.7 milligrays (mGy), and applied it to 100,000 hypothetical women, screened annually between the ages of 40 and 55 and then every other year between the ages of 56 and 74.

They calculated what the risk would be from the radiation over time and took into account other causes of death. "We used an absolute risk model," Yaffe said. That is, it computes "if a certain number of people get a certain amount of radiation, down the road a ce
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