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High Risks Of Heart-related Diseases In Childhood-cancer Survivors

By Rajannya Lahiri     May 22, 2008 in Health
Children who survive cancers in their pre-schooling or pre-teen years are at a higher risk of becoming victims of heart-related disease conditions in later years of maturity, preliminary results released by American Society of Clinical Oncology revealed.
Young adults who survived from cancer at an early age of childhood, and their doctors, need to be more cautious about their heart-conditions. U. S. researchers recently came upon a theory which states that young cancer survivors are highly prone to having heart diseases in later years of maturity/adulthood than their healthy siblings.
"This study clearly shows for children, and particularly children treated with radiation therapy to the chest, or certain drugs that are particularly toxic to the heart, there are significant risks of cardiovascular disease at a far younger-than-expected age," said Dr. Richard Schilsky of the University of Chicago.
Schilsky, a president elect of ASCO, further states, "Study highlights the challenges faced by cancer survivors, who have to live with the health consequences of having had cancer and having been treated for cancer."
The research was conducted on over 14, 000 survivors of cancers in their childhood. Dr. Daniel Mulrooney from the University of Minnesota performed the studies with his colleagues, which involved 14, 358 survivors of bone cancers, central nervous system tumors, Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, kidney tumors, leukemia, neuroblastoma and soft-tissue sarcoma in their childhood, between 1970 and 1986. Comparing has been done with 3, 899 of their siblings, which shows that cancer survivors on average were 7 years old at diagnosis and 27 at follow up.
The studies show the following consequences:
10 times more likely to have clogged arteries, than their siblings.
5.7 times more likely to have heart failure, than their siblings.
4.9 times more likely to have heart attacks, than their siblings.
6.3 times more likely to have pericardial disease (affecting the sac which surrounds the heart), than their siblings.
4.8 times more likely to have diseased heart valves, than their siblings.
According to Mulrooney, 1 out of every 900 young adults are survivors of childhood cancer.
"One of the positive effects of these findings," stated Mulrooney, "is that these will lead to much improved cancer treatments for the protection of the heart." Though new radiation treatments are being targeted, Mulrooney stated that they still use radiation treatment which, he hopes, will have a lesser impact on the heart.
Schilsky said other studies have found long-term cancer survivors are at greater risk of premature osteoporosis, infertility, thyroid problems, anxiety and depression and the risk of another cancer.
"It becomes incumbent on the patient and the primary care physician to be aware of their cancer history and the potential consequences of their treatment," Schilsky said.
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