• Article

Risk of treatment-related esophageal cancer among breast cancer survivors

Background Radiotherapy for breast cancer may expose the esophagus to ionizing radiation, but no study has evaluated esophageal cancer risk after breast cancer associated with radiation dose or systemic therapy use.
Design Nested case–control study of esophageal cancer among 289 748 ?5-year survivors of female breast cancer from five population-based cancer registries (252 cases, 488 individually matched controls), with individualized radiation dosimetry and information abstracted from medical records.
Results The largest contributors to esophageal radiation exposure were supraclavicular and internal mammary chain treatments. Esophageal cancer risk increased with increasing radiation dose to the esophageal tumor location (Ptrend < 0.001), with doses of ?35 Gy associated with an odds ratio (OR) of 8.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.7–28]. Patients with hormonal therapy ?5 years preceding esophageal cancer diagnosis had lower risk (OR = 0.4, 95% CI 0.2–0.8). Based on few cases, alkylating agent chemotherapy did not appear to affect risk. Our data were consistent with a multiplicative effect of radiation and other esophageal cancer risk factors (e.g. smoking).
Conclusions Esophageal cancer is a radiation dose-related complication of radiotherapy for breast cancer, but absolute risk is low. At higher esophageal doses, the risk warrants consideration in radiotherapy risk assessment and long-term follow-up.


Morton, LM., Gilbert, ES., Hall, P., Andersson, M., Joensuu, H., Vaalavirta, L., ... Aleman, BMP. (2012). Risk of treatment-related esophageal cancer among breast cancer survivors. Annals of Oncology, 23(12), 3081-3091. https://doi.org/10.1093/annonc/mds144

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