Although breast cancer survivors usually worry about their long-term risk of recurrence, most of these women should be just as concerned about their hearts, medical researchers reported at a San Francisco oncology conference.
The 10-year risk of a serious cardiovascular event was at least as high as the risk of breast cancer for 78% of women, Dr. Aditya Bardia of Johns Hopkins and colleagues reported at the ASCO Breast Cancer Symposium.
See also: When cancer treatment damages your heart
Dr. Rowan Chlebowski of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and chair of the session where the results were presented, said this link is a consistent message emerging in breast oncology:
” Breast cancer patients need more attention to cardiovascular health regardless of their risk level. We need more interaction with cardiologists.”
This may mean referrals of high-risk patients for appropriate management, Dr. Bardia added. But counseling about risk reduction strategies common to cardiology and oncology, such as physical activity, may help avoid both hazards, he suggested.
Cardiovascular disease risk was more likely to be the predominant concern for women who had low grade tumours, small breast tumours, node negative disease, and early stage breast cancer.
Findings of Dr. Bardia’s preliminary studies don’t negate the importance of long-term management of breast cancer risk, but suggest more attention to the bigger picture is warranted. Other things are also important, and these results were estimates based on prognostic tools rather than actual outcome data, and the study did not factor in potentially important variables including obesity, diabetes, and the effect of breast cancer treatment on risk.
Read this report of the Breast Cancer Symposium presentation.
NOTE FROM CAROLYN: I wrote more on cardiac risk factors in my book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease”. You can ask for it at your local bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from my publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press (use their code HTWN to save 30% off the list price).