Risk of Heart & Lung Damage with Breast Radiation

Last Modified: March 9, 2008

Share article


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

What is the risk of damage to your heart or lung from radiation treatment for left breast DCIS?


Terry Styles, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

After many years of radiotherapy and many types of cancer treated, it became obvious that radiation to the chest region can cause damage to the heart and lungs. For example, when radiation was used after mastectomy for left sided breast cancers, there was a slightly increased risk of cardiac damage. A large volume of the heart was often included in these treatment fields. After many years of study, it became apparent that there was a slightly higher than normal rate of coronary disease in the patients who received radiation to their left side due to the volume of heart and lung tissue in those radiation fields. It is important to point out that this risk was outweighed by the benefit; that is, with radiation, there were fewer second cancers and local recurrences.

I Wish You Knew

Benefits of yoga during cancer treatment

View More

Blogs and Web Chats

OncoLink Blogs give our readers a chance to react to and comment on key cancer news topics and provides a forum for OncoLink Experts and readers to share opinions and learn from each other.

OncoLink OncoPilot

Facing a new cancer diagnosis or changing the course of your current treatment? Let our cancer nurses help you through!

Learn More