16 March 2018

Patients who survive cancer as children face a significant range of increased cardiovascular risks, according to new research.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, found 4.5% of survivors developed cardiovascular disease, mostly before the age of 40, while more than 25% had significant cardiovascular risk factors. This is eight years earlier than would be expected in the general population.

In addition the researchers found hypertension affected 23% of survivors and occurred six years earlier than in the general population. Dyslipidaemia affected 28% of survivors.

The findings come from screening of some 951 adult patients who were aged between 23 and 48 and treated for cancer as children. They were compared with more than 15,000 others selected from the general population.

The report showed that cancer survivors had a nearly doubled risk of diseases such as congestive heart failure, which affected 1.2%, and venous thromboembolism, which affected 2%.

Researcher Professor Joerg Faber, head of paediatric haematology at the University Medical Centre of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Germany, said: “Our results show that these survivors of childhood cancer have a substantially elevated burden of prematurely occurring traditional cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular diseases.”

He added: “Usually survivors are followed for only five to ten years after completion of therapy, and this is focused on the risk of the cancer returning and the acute adverse effects of their treatment, rather than on other conditions. 

“Current guidelines recommend cardiovascular assessments only for sub-groups known to be at risk, such as for patients who were treated with anthracycline therapy and / or radiation therapy. However, further investigations are needed to answer questions about the best follow-up care.”


Source: J. Faber et al. Burden of cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular disease in childhood cancer survivors: data from the German CVSS-study, European Heart Journal 9 March 2018; doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehy026

Link: https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehy026


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