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Int J Radiat Biol. 2011 Nov;87(11):1103-12. doi: 10.3109/09553002.2011.608410. Epub 2011 Sep 19.

DNA double-strand breaks induced by mammographic screening procedures in human mammary epithelial cells.

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  • 1Hospices Civils de Lyon, Service de Radiologie, Centre Hospitalier Lyon Sud, Pierre-Bénite, France.



To assess in vitro mammographic radiation-induced DNA damage in mammary epithelial cells from 30 patients with low (LR) or high (HR) family risk of breast cancer.


Spontaneous and radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) were quantified by using immunofluorescence of the phosphorylated H2AX histone (γH2AX) in different conditions of mammography irradiation (2, 4, 2 + 2 mGy).


HR patients showed significantly more spontaneous γH2AX foci than LR patients (p = 0.014). A significant dose-effect was observed, with an exacerbation in HR patients (p = 0.01). The dose repetition (2 + 2 mGy) provided more induced and more unrepaired DSB than 2 mGy and 4 mGy, and was exacerbated in HR (p = 0.006).


This study highlights the existence of DSB induced by mammography and revealed by γH2AX assay with two major radiobiological effects occurring: A low-dose effect, and a LOw and Repeated Dose (LORD) effect. All these effects were exacerbated in HR patients. These findings may lead us to re-evaluate the number of views performed in screening using a single view (oblique) in women whose mammographic benefit has not properly been proved such as HR patients.

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