The Biological Impact of Radiation Exposure on Breast Cancer Development

  • David H. Nguyen
  • Irineu Illa Bochaca
  • Mary Helen Barcellos-HoffEmail author


Ionizing radiation is a well-established breast carcinogen in women and has been a widely studied cause of cancer in experimental models. Clinical data and experimental models are discussed to highlight radiation effects on the mammary gland and breast cancer as a system of heterotypic interactions among multiple cell types. Epidemiological data from different populations of women who were exposed to radiation during various stages of physiological development have offered insight into potential biological mechanisms that mediate radiation-induced breast cancer. This chapter discusses classic and current views of radiation’s action within the mammary gland and how these effects interact biologically to inform a more comprehensive conceptualization of radiation as a carcinogen, including new emphasis on a defined adult stem cell population within the mammary gland.


Ionizing radiation Stem cell Mammary gland Breast cancer 



This research was supported by a DOD-BCRP predoctoral fellowship to DHN and the Department of Energy, Office of Biological and Environment Research Low Dose program, the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers grant number U01 ES/CA 012801 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health to MHBH. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • David H. Nguyen
    • 1
  • Irineu Illa Bochaca
    • 2
  • Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Molecular Endocrinology ProgramUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Radiation OncologyNew York University, Langone School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Radiation OncologyNew York University, Langone School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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