Childhood Cancer Survivors Not Getting Recommended Mammograms

Among women at increased risk of breast cancer as a result of chest radiation for childhood cancer, many are not receiving regular mammographic screening for breast cancer. These results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Women who were treated with radiation therapy to the chest for childhood cancer have an increased risk of developing breast cancer at a young age. By the age of 45, an estimated 12-20% of women treated in childhood with moderate- to high-dose radiation to the chest will develop breast cancer.

In response to the increased risk of breast cancer in this group of women, the Children’s Oncology Group recommends annual screening mammography starting at the age of 25 or eight years after radiation (whichever comes last).[1]

To explore the extent to which childhood cancer survivors adhere to these guidelines, researchers conducted a study among 625 women between the ages of 25 and 50 who had been treated with chest radiation for a childhood cancer.[2] Information about history of screening mammography was collected by questionnaire.

  • Among women between the ages of 25 and 39, only 37% had received a screening mammogram in the previous two years. Forty-seven percent had never had a screening mammogram.
  • Among women between the ages of 40 and 50, 77% reported a screening mammogram in the previous two years, but only 53% were being screened regularly (at least two mammograms in four years).

This study suggests that many childhood cancer survivors with a history of chest radiation are not receiving recommended breast cancer screening. Childhood cancer survivors may wish to talk with their healthcare provider about recommended cancer screening tests.


[1] Children’s Oncology Group. Long-Term Follow-Up Guidelines for Survivors of Childhood, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancers. Version 2.0, March 2006. Available at: (Accessed January 29, 2009).

[2] Oeffinger KC, Ford JS, Moskowitz CS et al. Breast cancer surveillance practices among women previously treated with chest irradiation for a childhood cancer. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2009;301(4):404-414.

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