The risks of breast radiotherapy and how to avoid them

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


Besides its benefits, postoperative radiotherapy may cause damage to the irradiated healthy tissues, including inflammatory and/or fibrotic changes or even secondary cancers. Radiation pneumonitis or lung fibrosis may develop shortly after the administration of the radiotherapy. Fibrosis of the breast or the soft tissues exerts an impact on the cosmetic outcome and functioning. Life-threatening radiogenic complications such as ischaemic heart disease, and secondary malignancies may be observed only after a follow-up period of at least 10 years. The radiation damage may be progressive, and depends on various radiotherapy- and patient-related factors or even the systemic therapy. Technical developments including CT-based 3D conformal radiotherapy, IMRT, IGRT, the implementation of patient positioning and immobilization, radiotherapy planning and treatment verification systems in radiotherapy serve to lessen radiation hazards. Despite these beneficial achievements in sparing healthy tissues, radiotherapy still denotes a significant risk, which necessitates a careful estimate of the potential benefit of radiotherapy in each case, and determination of the treatment strategy accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBreast Cancer, a Heterogeneous Disease Entity
Subtitle of host publicationThe Very Early Stages
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9789400704886
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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  • Cite this

    Kahán, Z., Hideghéty, K., & Varga, Z. (2011). The risks of breast radiotherapy and how to avoid them. In Breast Cancer, a Heterogeneous Disease Entity: The Very Early Stages (pp. 241-268). Springer Netherlands.