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Int J Radiat Biol. 2002 Dec;78(12):1065-7.

Routine screening mammography: how important is the radiation-risk side of the benefit-risk equation?

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1
Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA. djb3@columbia.edu

Abstract

The potential radiation hazards associated with routine screening mammography, in terms of breast cancer induction, are discussed in the context of the potential benefits. The very low energy X-rays used in screening mammography (26-30 kVp) are expected to be more hazardous, per unit dose, than high-energy X- or gamma-rays, such as those to which A-bomb survivors (from which radiation risk estimates are derived) were exposed. Based on in vitro studies using oncogenic transformation and chromosome aberration end-points, as well as theoretical estimates, it seems likely that low doses of low-energy X-rays produce an increased risk per unit dose (compared with high energy photons) of about a factor of 2. Because of the low doses involved in screening mammography, the benefit-risk ratio for older women would still be expected to be large, though for younger women the increase in the estimated radiation risk suggests a somewhat later age than currently recommended--by about 5-10 years--at which to commence routine breast screening.

PMID:
12556334
DOI:
10.1080/0955300021000016576
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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