European Radiology

, Volume 20, Issue 11, pp 2547–2556 | Cite as

Exposure to low-dose radiation and the risk of breast cancer among women with a familial or genetic predisposition: a meta-analysis

  • Marijke C. Jansen-van der WeideEmail author
  • Marcel J. W. Greuter
  • Liesbeth Jansen
  • Jan C. Oosterwijk
  • Ruud M. Pijnappel
  • Geertruida H. de Bock



Women with familial or genetic aggregation of breast cancer are offered screening outside the population screening programme. However, the possible benefit of mammography screening could be reduced due to the risk of radiation-induced tumours. A systematic search was conducted addressing the question of how low-dose radiation exposure affects breast cancer risk among high-risk women.


A systematic search was conducted for articles addressing breast cancer, mammography screening, radiation and high-risk women. Effects of low-dose radiation on breast cancer risk were presented in terms of pooled odds ratios (OR).


Of 127 articles found, 7 were selected for the meta-analysis. Pooled OR revealed an increased risk of breast cancer among high-risk women due to low-dose radiation exposure (OR = 1.3, 95% CI: 0.9– 1.8). Exposure before age 20 (OR = 2.0, 95% CI: 1.3–3.1) or a mean of ≥5 exposures (OR = 1.8, 95% CI: 1.1–3.0) was significantly associated with a higher radiation-induced breast cancer risk.


Low-dose radiation increases breast cancer risk among high-risk women. When using low-dose radiation among high-risk women, a careful approach is needed, by means of reducing repeated exposure, avoidance of exposure at a younger age and using non-ionising screening techniques.


Breast cancer BRCA1/2 Family history Low-dose radiation Radiation effects Screening 



We thank Mr. David Goldgar on behalf of the IBCCS study for providing additional information for the subgroup analysis.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marijke C. Jansen-van der Weide
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marcel J. W. Greuter
    • 1
  • Liesbeth Jansen
    • 3
  • Jan C. Oosterwijk
    • 4
  • Ruud M. Pijnappel
    • 1
  • Geertruida H. de Bock
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyUniversity Medical Center Groningen, University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity Medical Center Groningen, University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryUniversity Medical Center Groningen, University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Clinical GeneticsUniversity Medical Center Groningen, University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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