BMC cancer

Relation between the rate of tumour cell proliferation and latency time in radiation associated breast cancer.

PMID 12697074


Patients with possible radiation induced cancer could be used to study if the rate of tumour cell proliferation is related to latency time. Such a finding could help researcher to find time periods when other initiating risk factors operate. Seventeen women with breast cancer, with a prior history of radiation treatment towards the parts or the whole breast, exclusive of the primary treatment of a breast cancer were identified. Most women had received treatment for benign disorders as hemangiomas, shoulder pain or skin infections. Three patients had been treated with mantle radiation for Hodgkin's disease prior to developing breast cancer. DNA analysis were performed, on remaining tumour tissue after hormone receptor analysis had been done, measuring the fraction of tumour cells in S-phase. Latency time (time between diagnosis and previous radiation treatment) was calculated and related to the S-phase fraction. A significant inverse relationship between latency time and S-phase was found (p < 0.0025), indicating that tumours with a high S-phase had a short latency time and vice versa. Among the possible radiation induced tumours, median S-phase was 14%, comparable with a median latency time of 22 years. Very high S-phase values were associated with short latency times (eg a S-phase of 35% would be compatible with a latency time of 7 years). Our preliminary results indicate that S-phase is related to latency time and that the median latency time maybe as long as 22 years. Our data may also explain why breast cancer is rare before 30 years of age and if patients are diagnosed at early ages, tumours often show high S-phase values and bad prognostic signs. We postulate that these results from radiation induced breast cancer may be used to extrapolate possible latency times in patients with non radiation induced breast tumours in order to isolate possible time periods for research after other initiating events.