Insurers usually won't pay for cancer survivors to keep seeing an oncologist, so primary care physicians need to be aware that women who were treated for breast cancer are at higher risk of heart disease, said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Association.
The new scientific statement comes after the release of a compilation of prevalence data and shared risk factors for heart disease and breast cancer, as well as the cardiotoxic effects of cancer therapy.
"The intent is not to scare women away from any breast cancer treatments", stressed Dr. Laxmi Mehta, the lead author of the report and director of the women's cardiovascular health program at Ohio State University. Catching heart failure early on could indicate that the patient needs a slightly modified treatment, or some extra care so as not to worsen the condition.
Breast cancer and CVD already share a number of risk factors-older age, obesity, onset of menopause, low-quality diets and family history are just a handful of components that can influence both illnesses. For their part, oncologists have said that the American cardiologists' announcement should not discourage women with breast cancer from doing more aggressive treatment if necessary.
While most cases for the disease occur in men over the age of 50, it shouldn't be considered an "old man's cancer", with figures showing dozens of men aged between 25 to 44 were diagnosed this year.
When you're diagnosed, the first thing you worry about is, 'Am I going to live?
Breast cancer mortality rates have fallen by 10 per cent in the last five years, new analysis has shown. "This is because the population is growing and more of us are living longer".
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The statement, published Thursday in Circulation, advises that both diseases be considered together during breast cancer treatment since cancer outcomes can be influenced by heart health. Previous research has shown that chemotherapy weakens the heart, but the AHA is concerned that the link to cancer drugs may be missed if cardiovascular symptoms are experienced years after treatment, according to the article.
Mehta adds that this statement does not aim to discourage patients from agreeing to breast cancer therapies but help them make informed decisions regarding the best treatment for them.
Two drugs commonly used against breast tumors are doxorubicin and trastuzumab.
For example, drugs called anthracyclines - such as doxorubicin - can damage heart muscle cells, sometimes leading to chronic heart failure.
LeBaron, who was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy after completing her cancer treatment and in later years found her left ventricle pumping capacity was 25 percent or less, said she was told her heart damage was due to the treatments.
Those types of symptoms may or may not be concerning on their own, she said. To me, it's 'the little engine that could.' I love my little heart.. According to the organization, breast cancer survivors are more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer.