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Women with early-stage cancer of the left breast who are treated with radiation as a component of breast-sparing treatment, have an increased risk of developing radiation-related coronary damage, researchers report.

Nevertheless, “the benefits of radiation therapy for breast cancer still clearly outweigh the risks,” Dr. Candace R. Correa told Reuters Health. “However,” she added, “there may still be room for improvement in radiation techniques,” when radiation is applied to the breast on the same side as the heart.

Correa, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the medical records of 961 stage I-II breast cancer patients to look into this issue of radiation damage to the heart’s arteries.

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