Heart group warns of cardiovascular risks after treatment for breast cancer

Breast Cancer Treatments May Increase Heart Disease

Breast Cancer Treatments May Increase Heart Disease

With earlier detection and improved treatments, long-term survival among women who develop breast cancer is good.

The publication explores the shared risk factors for breast cancer and cardiovascular disease and the cardiotoxic effects of breast cancer treatments. Left ventricular systolic dysfunction, arrhythmias and QT interval prolongation are the most common cardiovascular side effects of breast cancer therapies.

Identifying at-risk patients is crucial.

Phil, who is now cancer-free, described one symptom as needing the toilet more frequently throughout the night.

Time and money allotted to breast cancer research have far outpaced the resources afforded to prostate cancer research, she said.

The problems can occur in patients with healthy hearts going into treatment. Delivery methods, such as doxorubicin as an intravenous infusion instead of a bolus dose, or liposomal formulations of doxorubicin compared to standard preparations, may preserve the efficacy of therapy while reducing the incidence of cardiotoxicity. Dr. Susan Gilchrist, a cardiologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center who runs the only US program for women's heart health after cancer, said she would treat hypertension, obesity, and other risk factors even more aggressively in a patient who had received doxorubicin, for instance.

Although breast cancer death rates have declined since 1989, over 40,000 American women die from the disease every year.

"Adriamycin-induced congestive heart failure symptoms can show up three to five years after treatment and easily be missed by an internist or ER doctor who does not see a lot of these patients", he said.

Dr Mehta said other cancer drugs can cause abnormal heart rhythms or tighten muscles in the artery, causing chest pains and increasing the risk of a heart attack.

Another treatment, radiation, can cause blockages in the heart, but doctors are developing more-targeted radiation to reduce the risks of those problems.

Professional dancer and Celebrity Big Brother housemate Wayne Sleep was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 2015 and will be leading the London March for Men for the second year running.

Among the chemotherapies used in breast cancer that may compromise cardiac function, doxorubicin - or Adriamycin - and trastuzumab, also known as Herceptin.

According to the charity, the number of women dying from breast cancer has been steadily decreasing since 1999, but the same downward death trend has not been observed for prostate cancer.

"The introduction of precision medicine, a screening program and a weighty research boost has no doubt played an important role in reducing the number of women who die from the disease", she said. As much as 80% of attributable risk for CVD can be eliminated by attention to modifiable risk factors, including a healthy diet, abstinence from tobacco, maintenance of a healthy weight, blood pressure control, a favorable lipid profile, diabetes management, and physical activity.

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