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Home News and Update Year 2009 HFSA Meeting Highlights Increased Risk of Heart Failure Among Childhood Cancer Survivors

HFSA Meeting Highlights Increased Risk of Heart Failure Among Childhood Cancer Survivors

The Medical News
15 September 2009

The 13th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) today featured a discussion titled “Cardiovascular Disease in Survivors of Childhood Cancer” presented by Dr. Ming Hui Chen, Director, Stress Echocardiography Program and Program for Cardiac Health in Cancer Survivors, Children’s Hospital Boston. Dr. Chen’s presentation highlights the increased risk of heart failure among childhood cancer survivors due to cancer treatments, highlighting the need for patient–physician education and counseling to monitor and help prevent heart disease.

Heart failure can be difficult to detect and diagnose in adult survivors of childhood cancers since patients may not fit the typical demographic profile of heart failure patients. Childhood cancer survivors are likely to present with heart failure symptoms earlier in their adult life. Females, African–Americans and those that received both radiation and anti–cancer therapy are at greatest risk. Specific side effects of treatment and diseases are dependent upon the type of cancer treatment patients receive.

“It is critical for the public to become aware that there are populations at risk for heart failure outside of the traditional demographic,” said Dr. Douglas Mann, HFSA President. “Physical exams and follow up care is important in ensuring disease prevention in these non–traditional groups.”

“It takes decades for side effects to occur after cancer treatment, therefore making it harder for physicians to recognize the association between cancer treatment and heart failure,” said Dr. Chen. Doctors specializing in late–effects recommend childhood cancer survivors take several preventative measures against heart disease, such as receiving regular screening for several decades after completing cancer therapy as the risk of cardiovascular disease increases with longer follow up, keeping a copy of their own cancer treatment records with them and becoming knowledgeable about their disease and treatment.

“Patients should be encouraged to become their own advocates and educate themselves about their cancer treatments to aide physicians in proper care,” said Dr. Chen. “Both awareness and screening is important to ensure early detection of heart failure among childhood cancer survivors or for the opportunity to help modify risk factors of the onset of cardiac events.”

Treatments for cancer in the last ten to fifteen years have used lower doses of radiation therapy and anti–cancer agents, thereby potentially reducing the risk of long–term cardiovascular problems in childhood cancer survivors. Additional data will be more forthcoming in the future.

For a complete list of annual meeting sessions or for details on attending the conference, call (617) 226–7183 or visit www.hfsa.org and click on Annual Scientific Meeting. There is no registration fee for accredited journalists. Interview areas will be available on–site in addition to a fully–staffed press room with phone and internet accessibility.

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