Interactive tool 'boosts knowledge of breast cancer treatment options'

Study highlights the intersection of Heart Disease and Breast Cancer

But women may benefit from a new approach to treatment that weighs the benefits of specific therapies against potential damage to the heart. This is what they said people should know about the intersection of breast cancer and heart health.

This week, the AHA published a scientific statement detailing the cardiovascular risks that can come with cancer treatment.

Co-authors are Karol E. Watson, M.D., Ph.D., Vice-Chair; Ana Barac, M.D., Ph.D.; Theresa M. Beckie, Ph.D.; Vera Bittner, M.D., M.S.P.H.; Salvador Cruz-Flores, M.D., M.P.H.; Susan F. Dent, M.D.; Lavanya Kondapalli, M.D.; Bonnie Ky, M.D.; Tochukwu Okwuosa, D.O.; Ileana L. Piña, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA; and Annabelle S. Volgman, M.D.; on behalf of the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Disease in Women and Special Populations Committee of the Council on Clinical Cardiology; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; and Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research. The aromatase inhibitor anastrozole has been linked to heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. An estimated 47 million women in the USA have heart disease.

"Adriamycin, or doxorubicin, and trastuzumab, or Herceptin, are the big causes of heart failure", Brawley said.

The greatest risk is from doxorubicin, and it increases with the number of treatment cycles.

Dr Tochi Okwuosa: "The problem is, if you are at risk, and not everybody is at risk, you get through treatment, you get back to your regular life and all is well until all is not well, and somebody tells you, 'You have heart failure'".

"Fortunately, with the advances in breast cancer treatment, there has been a growing number of survivors". "We want patients to undergo the best treatments available".

Science is still working on combating the negative effects cancer treatment can have on patients' hearts, but drugs that can reduce cellular damage are being slowly introduced to the medical market.

That's especially important many years after treatment.

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Anthracyclines, too, have been connected to the development of abnormal heart rhythms, which, if not benign, can lead to more permanent arrhythmia problems in cancer patients.

Nearly 48 million women in the United States have some kind of heart disease, compared with 3.3 million women with breast cancer, the AHA said. According to the AHA, careful documentation may help women find ways to at least minimize, if not avoid altogether, risks of heart disease as a side effect of breast cancer treatments.

The AHA statement might help explain two puzzles about cancer treatment. Women have screening for breast cancer and this is one reason why mortality rates for prostate cancer are now higher than those for breast cancer.

Both affect millions of women in the US each year, but Mehta's team wrote it's a common misconception that cancer is more deadly than CVD. But primary care physicians might not be as knowledgeable, and it's useful to "remind the busy general practitioner and the medical oncologist that they need to pull the cardiologist in".

"It's incredibly encouraging to see the tremendous progress that has been made in breast cancer over recent years", said Prostate Cancer UK's Chief Executive, Angela Culhane. In one of the world's longest-running mammography studies, researchers in Canada found that among women aged 40 to 59 who were randomly assigned to regular mammograms, mortality after 5, 10, and 15 years was indistinguishable from women not getting regular mammograms. The CDC has been in overdrive this year as the death toll from the flu reaches an all-time high.

There are certain medications individuals can take to preventively combat their risk of both CVD and breast cancer, the authors wrote.

Roger Wotton, chairman of Tackle Prostate Cancer, said.

Dr Okwuosa: "If women with breast cancer are aware of these things ahead of time, they can be more proactive about their health".

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