For GPs

Radiation Therapy ‘Not A Risk For Breast Cancer Patients’

10 Apr 2018

A large-scale study has found the risk of death from heart disease in breast cancer patients following radiation therapy and chemotherapy is no higher than it is among the average population.

The study evaluated data from 350,000 breast cancer patients from US Cancer registries who had received either radiation therapy or chemotherapy, which was then compared with statistics on the female average population in the USA.

It showed that the long-term risk of mortality from heart disease in patients who had received either chemotherapy or radiation therapy was not higher following breast cancer treatment than in the average female population.

Study co-author Dr Hermann Brenner, from the German Cancer Research Centre, said the study’s findings were reassuring for breast cancer patients.

“We consider the result of our study to be very positive for the treatment of breast cancer,” Dr Brenner said.  “It is particularly good news for the large number of affected patients that if they are in good medical care and have survived breast cancer, they do not need to be more worried about deadline heart diseases than women at the same age without breast cancer.”

Clinical trials have previously suggested that both chemotherapy and radiation therapy are associated with causing heart disease as a consequence of treatment.

The study reports that good risk management in hospitals as well as control screenings at short intervals for patients compensate for any elevated risks either chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatment may bring.

An estimated 18,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be reported in Australia this year, with about 3000 anticipated in New Zealand.

Targeting Cancer Clinical Lead A/Prof Sandra Turner welcomed the results of the study, which were reported in Science Daily.

“This study once again highlights that radiation therapy is a safe and effective treatment, not just for breast cancer but for other cancers as well,” A/Prof Turner said.

“In many cases, radiation therapy can have limited or no side effects for patients, have minimal impact on their day-to-day lives and effectively treats their cancer.

“Targeting Cancer will continue to work to educate patients and families, GPs and other health professionals about the benefits of radiation therapy as a cancer treatment.”

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