Kids Who Beat Cancer Still Face Heart Risks

WEDNESDAY Dec. 9, 2009 -- Survivors of childhood cancer have a significantly increased risk for developing heart disease as young adults, a new study finds.

The finding came from an analysis of data on 14,358 five-year cancer survivors who were diagnosed before age 21 and 3,899 siblings of cancer survivors. The cancers were leukemia, brain cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, kidney cancer, neuroblastoma, soft tissue carcinoma or bone cancer.

The study found that young adult survivors of these childhood cancers are much more likely than others in their age group to have cardiovascular problems, including heart failure, heart attack, heart inflammation and heart valve abnormalities, for up to 30 years after being treated for cancer.

They also found that the risk was associated with lower exposure to chemotherapy and radiation treatment than previously thought.

"Young adults who survive childhood or adolescent cancer are clearly at risk for early cardiac morbidity and mortality not typically recognized within this age group," wrote the study's lead author, Dr. Daniel Mulrooney, a pediatric hematology oncologist at the University of Minnesota, and his research colleagues. "Such individuals require ongoing clinical monitoring, particularly as they approach ages in which cardiovascular disease becomes more prevalent."

Health-care providers need to be aware of this increased risk for heart disease when caring for patients who survived childhood cancer, the researchers said.

The study was published online Dec. 9 in BMJ.

More information

The American Society of Clinical Oncology has more about the long-term effects of childhood cancer.

Posted: December 2009


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