Breast cancer in patients irradiated for Hodgkin's disease: a clinical and pathologic analysis of 45 events in 37 patients

J Clin Oncol. 1992 Nov;10(11):1674-81. doi: 10.1200/JCO.1992.10.11.1674.


Purpose: To characterize the clinical and pathologic features of patients who developed breast cancer (BC) after treatment for Hodgkin's disease (HD). Recent epidemiologic studies have shown that women who are cured of HD have an increased risk of developing BC.

Patients and methods: The clinical data, mammograms, and pathologic specimens of 37 women who developed 45 BCs (eight bilateral events), and had a prior history of treatment for HD were analyzed.

Results: The median age at diagnosis of HD was 27 years (range, 11 to 60). All patients received radiotherapy (RT) to the upper part of their body, and 10 also had chemotherapy for HD. The median interval from the treatment of HD to the diagnosis of BC was 15 years (range, 8 to 34). The median age at diagnosis of BC was 43 years (range, 27 to 75), 41% of patients were 39 years old or younger. Most mammograms (81%) showed abnormal findings of mass and/or microcalcifications. Of the eight patients (22%) with bilateral tumors, four were synchronous and four were metachronous. Involvement of the medial half of the breast occurred more frequently than in patients with primary BC (39% and 21%, respectively; P < .002). But, the histologic types, grades, presence of lymphocytic reaction, and lymphatic invasion were similar to those observed in 935 primary BC patients who were previously analyzed at our center. The 6-year actuarial relapse-free survival (RFS) for node-negative BC after HD was 85%. Node-positive patients had a significantly lower RFS of 33% (P = .002).

Conclusions: In comparison to patients with primary BC, patients who develop BC after HD are more likely to be younger, have bilateral disease, and have their tumors more frequently involve the medial half of the breast. Pathologic characteristics, nodal involvement, and prognosis are similar to those of primary BC. BC in women who were treated for HD is becoming an increasing problem, as more patients cured of HD reach a follow-up time of 10 to 15 years. Breast examination and mammography at an early age should be part of the follow-up program for women who are cured of HD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / etiology
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Hodgkin Disease / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / pathology*
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / etiology
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / pathology*
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Survival Analysis