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Can many X-rays to the chest cause breast cancer?

UnluckyYouth's picture
UnluckyYouth
Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2012

I recently had pneumonia so I got many x-ray scans done to my chest. Sometimes when I inhale, I feel horrible pain in my left breast. Im really scared I might have breast cancer, but maybe Im just thinking too much. Any suggestions?
Thanks!

CypressCynthia's picture
CypressCynthia
Posts: 4017
Joined: Oct 2009

The short answer is no. First of all, the amount of radiation in a chest xray is miniscule. Secondly, cancer from repeated radiation exposure usually takes years to develop.

On the other hand, CT scans (different than regular Xrays) usually expose us to the most radiation (10-20 mSv) compared to the tiny amount of a chest xray (0.1 mSv). However, children are usually more susceptible to this exposure than adults.

http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/safety/index.cfm?pg=sfty_xray

UnluckyYouth's picture
UnluckyYouth
Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2012

I just turned 16, so am I considered a child? I also remember having a ct scan about a year ago and with all the other xray scans, Im really freaking out!

CypressCynthia's picture
CypressCynthia
Posts: 4017
Joined: Oct 2009

No, you are not really a child, but the Xray exposure that you have been through is not the repeated, chronic exposure that we worry about about. If the exposure does increase your risk (not likely), you would not develop a radiation related cancer for many, many decades.

For examples, over the 25 years since I was diagnosed with cancer, I have since had, I believe, over 5 CT scans, 4 bone scans, too many Xrays to begin to count and about 7-8 PET/CT scans scans. I have also had radiation therapy for cancer twice. And I have thus far had no radiation related cancers. I honestly don't worry about it, because I feel the risk is just not that high.

Hope this helps.

cabbott
Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

Breast cancer is extremely rare in teenagers. An irregular lump that doesn't go away after a month, secretions from the nipple, nipples that turn inward after earlier normal development are examples of signs of breast cancer. Pain upon inhaling is not a sign that I am familiar with concerning breast cancer. Different folks have different sorts of breast cancer and you can check out the Cancer Information or google "signs of breast cancer" to see if your symptoms fit but it would be a very unlikely problem in a teenager. I'm not a doctor, but I would wonder as a mom if maybe you had been coughing a lot with the pneumonia. You may have strained something or even broken a rib. A hard sneeze can do that and it will hurt like the dickens every time you take a big breath. There is little or nothing to do about broken ribs. You take a pain reliver, rest, eat right, and treat the pneumonia or coughing. Eventually the pain goes away. If the pain is caused by further lung infection (you might check out those xray reports to see which lung was involved to see if it was on your left side), you might need further antibiotics, decongestents, or a vaporizer. If this pain lasts more than a day or two, go back to the doctor and let the doctor do the worrying. That's what they get paid for and hopefully they can clear up the problem quickly.

UnluckyYouth's picture
UnluckyYouth
Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2012

Im currently free of pneumonia! I was since march, so I don't think it's from that...although it might me. The pneumonia was in the lower part of my right lung. I also discovered yellow spots on my nipples, more on the left than the right. I have this really big one almost in the middle of the left nipple. I thought it was yellow like the others, but it wasn't. It was whitish, as if there wasn't any colour there. Does that mean anything?

laughs_a_lot's picture
laughs_a_lot
Posts: 1369
Joined: Mar 2011

But I think it would be wise to see your family doctor. It probably is not cancer. More often than not things that bother us are NOT cancer. However there is only one way to be sure. It could be a yeast growing where it usually will not. The weather has been so hot it makes me wonder. If you left a wet bathing suit or bra on it could be the cause of a yeast type thing. The best thing to do is to go to the doctor and get a sense of relief when he tells you it is not cancer.

cathyp's picture
cathyp
Posts: 366
Joined: Dec 2009

As others have stated, the small amount of radiation from xrays shouldn't increase your risk for cancer. That being said, the tremendous amount of radiation therapy I received 23 years ago for Hodgkin's Lymphoma was the cause for my IDC. After my rads, I had a number of xrays, CT scans, and mammos that added to my total exposure numbers. Secondary breast cancer is a well known risk and common for HL survivors who were young at time of treatment and occurs 10-15 years out. Risk increases if certain chemo agents were used as well as if the ovaries were in the radiated field.
Along with a host of other secondary cancers (sarcomas, thyroid to name a few) the treatments for HL can effect the heart, lungs, muscles etc, etc. At the time I was dx'd, there were really not many choices. Now, because of studying us Hl survivors, much has been done to try to limit the effects of the life saving treatments.

Noel's picture
Noel
Posts: 3101
Joined: Apr 2009

I agree with the other sisters that you get such a small amount of radiation from xrays that it shouldn't be a risk for cancer. I think CT scans are the tests with the most radiation, but, not sure.

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