Children who survive cancer are more likely to suffer heart disease in adulthood, according to a new study.
The study showed that young adult survivors of childhood cancer are at risk for a variety of cardiovascular complications related to their cancer therapy, such as heart failure, heart attacks, inflammation of the heart and heart valve abnormalities - as late as 30 years after therapy.
This risk is apparent at lower exposures to anthracyclines (drugs used in chemotherapy) and radiation therapy than previously thought, the study showed.
Given these results, researchers are calling on health providers to be aware of the increased risks when caring for individuals who have survived childhood cancer.
A research team, led by Professor Daniel Mulrooney from the University of Minnesota, compared data from 14,358 five-year cancer survivors taking part in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study with 3,899 siblings of cancer survivors.
The cancer survivors were diagnosed between 1970 and 1986, before the age of 21. They had one of the following cancers: leukaemia, brain cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, kidney cancer, neuroblastoma, soft tissue sarcoma, or bone cancer.
The participants or their parents completed questionnaires about their health, medical conditions, and surgical procedures since diagnosis.
"Young adults who survive childhood or adolescent cancer are clearly at risk for early cardiac morbidity and mortality not typically recognised within this age group. Such individuals require ongoing clinical monitoring, particularly as they approach ages in which cardiovascular disease becomes more prevalent," Mulrooney said.
The study has been published on bmj.com.