• Cardiovascular diseases have been the leading cause of death among cancer survivors
  • Cancer survivors were at 1.6-1.7 times higher risk of heart diseases
  • Per recent estimates, the risk of heart diseases among childhood cancer survivors has declined

Cardiovascular diseases have been the leading cause of death among cancer survivors. Solid tumor cancers and hematological cancer survivors, in particular, are at 1.6 to 1.7 times higher risk of CVD compared to normal individuals. However, recent estimates show that the risk of heart diseases among childhood cancer survivors is falling.

A recent study reported that the efforts taken to protect kids from the toxic effects of cancer treatment, including radiotherapy, have been successful.

The study included 23,462 individuals in the childhood cancer survivor study, who suffered from the most common kinds of cancers diagnosed before they turned 21 during the period 1970 to 1990. The median age during cancer diagnosis was 6.1 years and the mean age during the last follow-up was 27.7 years. They also included a group of 5067 siblings of cancer survivors.

The key findings of the study are as follows:

  • Coronary artery disease risk has fallen steadily from 0.38% to 0.19% within two decades.
  • While the number of cancer survivors receiving cardiotoxic treatments increased, the doses they received has decreased.
  • Exposure to radiation therapy fell from 77% to 40%.
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma accounted for most of the decline of heart diseases and the efforts to reduce radiotherapy were the main reason behind this.

“These results suggest that efforts to modify cancer therapies in children and promote health surveillance are beginning to show benefits not only overall survival but also in late adverse cardiac effects, AJMC quoted the study authors.

The study investigated issues pertaining to 5 different cardiac conditions- heart failure, coronary artery disease namely heart failure, coronary artery disease, heart valve defects, arrhythmias and damages to heart tissue lining. The researchers also found out if the participants’ risk factors including diabetes, elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and hypertension, their weight, and if they smoked or exercised.

Having traditional cardiac risk factors increased the risk of heart diseases among cancer survivors. This demonstrated the need for preventing heart diseases among these individuals. One limitation of this study is that about a third of the possible participants refused to answer the questionnaire.

With the increase in the number of cancer survivors, the collaboration between oncologists and cardiologists is also on the rise. This paves the way towards better protection for cancer patients from the late effects of treatment.

Heart Disease
Calorie Cutting Can Reduce Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases Pixabay/Pexels