- Age of diagnosis of cancer survivors determines their risk of death from heart disease.
- Cancer survivors diagnosed at ages 15 to 19 years had 4.2 times higher risk of death from heart disease.
- Survivors who were 35 to 39 years old at cancer diagnosis had 1.2 times higher risk of death from heart disease
The age at which cancer survivors were diagnosed for cancer may help determine their risk of death from heart disease, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation
Heart disease has been known to be the leading cause of treatment-related, non-tumor deaths among survivors of childhood cancer, breast cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma.
‘The age of cancer diagnosis helps clinicians to provide the most intensive follow-up care to the survivors who are at higher risk.’
The United Kingdom-based study consisted of more than 200,000 survivors diagnosed with cancer from ages 15 to 39 years, who survived at least five years after being diagnosed.
Researchers examined data from these survivors and found:
- Six percent of deaths were caused by heart disease.
- Cancer survivors diagnosed at ages 15 to 19 years had 4.2 times higher risk of death from heart disease compared to the general population of similar age and gender.
- Survivors who were 35 to 39 years old at cancer diagnosis had 1.2 times higher risk of death from heart disease compared to the general population of similar age and gender.
"It is important for clinicians because it helps them focus the most intensive follow-up care on those most at risk," said Mike Hawkins, D.Phil., study senior author, epidemiology professor and director of the Centre for Childhood Cancer Survivor Studies at the University of Birmingham in England.
"It is important for survivors because it empowers them by providing them with their long-term chances of a specific side effect of cancer treatment." he added.
The significance of age at diagnosis was most apparent for survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma - cancer of the lymphatic system.
6.9% of survivors who were diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at ages 15-19 years had died of heart disease by age 55 years, while 2% of those diagnosed at ages 35-39 years.
Given their age and gender, less than 1% of these survivors would have been expected to die from general population rates.
Survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma experienced 3.8 times the risk of death from heart disease than expected from members of the general population of similar age and gender.
Among survivors of Hodgkin's lymphoma aged over 60 years, almost 28% of the total excess number of deaths observed were due to heart disease.
Survivors of other types of cancer also had a higher than expected risk of death from heart disease including: leukemia, genitourinary cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, and others.
Researchers noted the study lacks detailed information on exposure to cancer treatments: radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
This new research provides insight into the cardiotoxicity of cancer treatments given in the past to teenagers and young adults