-- Robert Preidt
SUNDAY, Nov. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Children who survive
cancer often have treatment-related changes to their arteries that
may put them at risk for heart disease while still in childhood, a
new study says.
The finding suggests doctors need to monitor these patients
earlier, and manage their risk factors for heart diseases while
they are still young.
"Research has shown childhood cancer survivors face heart and other health problems decades after treatment," study author Donald Dengel, a kinesiology professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, said in an American Heart Association news release. "But researchers had not, until now, looked at the heart health effects of childhood cancer treatment while survivors are still children."
The researchers assessed artery stiffness, thickness and
function in more than 300 boys and girls, ages 9 to 18, who had
survived at least five years since their diagnosis of leukemia or
cancerous tumors. Arteries are blood vessels that take blood away
from the heart.
These patients were compared with more than 200 siblings who did
not have cancer.
The childhood cancer survivors were more likely to have a
decline in arterial function that indicated premature heart
disease, according to the study, scheduled for presentation Sunday
at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in
The researchers also found that childhood leukemia survivors had
a 9 percent decrease in arterial health after completing
chemotherapy, compared to the children without cancer.
"Given this increased risk, children who survive cancer should make lifestyle changes to lower their cardiovascular risk," Dengel said. "Health care providers who are managing chemotherapy-treated childhood cancer survivors need to monitor cardiovascular risk factors immediately following the completion of their patients' cancer therapy."
The children in the study were predominantly white, so the
findings might not apply to other racial and ethnic groups. In
addition, the researchers were unable to link heart changes to any
specific chemotherapy agent.
The five-year survival rate for childhood cancers in the United
States increased from about 58 percent in 1975-77 to about 83
percent in 2003-09.
Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically
considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical
The U.S. National Cancer Institute talks about
late effects of childhood cancer treatment.
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