After Cancer, More Challenges
Cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders, like diabetes, may follow.
An amazing 80 percent of children today beat cancer. However, for these survivors, an overwhelming number must take up another battle later in life-against cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders. The same radiation and chemotherapy treatments that defeat childhood cancers are creating a myriad of cardiovascular problems later in life, which have been outlined in a number of large studies. Childhood cancer survivors have been shown to be 5 to 10 times more likely to develop heart disease. One result, cardiopulmonary disease, is the third leading cause of death in this survivor group. The common chemotherapy drug anthracycline can induce congestive heart failure-killing as many as 50 percent. All in all, two-thirds of these survivors face at least one effect of the treatment later in life-and as many as 40 percent may develop a severe or life-threatening condition 30 years after their cancer diagnosis.
Metabolic conditions like obesity, insulin resistance-which can lead to diabetes-and hypertension are also results of treatment. Certain cancer treatments have been directly linked to a higher occurrence of type 2 diabetes in adulthood.
Researchers say that to combat negative cardiovascular effects, survivors should receive regular screenings that vary based on their cancer treatment regimen, and should pay special attention to maintaining optimal cardiovascular and metabolic health through diet and exercise.
Source: Pediatrics, January 2008