10 things to know about the intersection of breast cancer, CVD

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Patients can find it hard to focus on the crossover effects when facing radiation, surgery or chemotherapy.

Researchers enrolled 537 patients with newly diagnosed early-stage, breast cancer from multiple practices spread throughout four states. But as they got older, many developed serious side effects, called "late effects", from the treatments, including heart problems and second cancers. "Even after they survive that, they still fear it", but heart disease is more likely to kill them, especially after age 65, Mehta said.

Every year, 11,819 men die from prostate cancer in the UK.

Although there are an estimated 47.8 million women in the US who are living with cardiovascular diseases and approximately 3 million breast cancer survivors, many people regard breast cancer as the primary threat to women's health. And if a woman goes to an emergency rooom with symptoms of heart failure, he said, triage nurses need to factor in past breast cancer treatment when making the initial determination of whether she has heart failure.

Sometimes, the impact on the heart is only temporary, and the heart can regain proper function once the breast cancer treatment completes, or when the patient also adds heart medicine into the mix. While not included in the data, about 80 men are also thought to have died from breast cancer in 2015. For instance, the organization notes that breast cancer survivors should stick to a healthy diet and regular exercise in order to have better chances at a healthy and long life. Dr. Susan Gilchrist, a cardiologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center who runs the only USA program for women's heart health after cancer, said she would treat hypertension, obesity, and other risk factors even more aggressively in a patient who had received doxorubicin, for instance. Certain therapies have been linked to weakened heart muscle, heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction.

So the study, published in the journal Heart in 2016, suggests that a single chemotherapy drug is associated with less damage to the heart compared with combining drugs.

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Other treatments, such as radiation, can affect the heart arteries and cause the development of coronary artery disease or blockages.

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

Additionally, men who eat more dairy and animal fats have been shown in studies to be more inclined to get the disease (however, this could just as likely be due to a correlation between people eating more of these foods being more likely to be obese).

"The problem is, no one has this on their radar", so patients are not routinely checked for it, Dr. Javid Moslehi, head of a Vanderbilt University clinic specializing in heart risks from cancer therapies, said when a study reported this problem about a year ago.

Overall, "one of the great things about the cancer world right now is that there are more and more survivors", Mehta said. "We want to make sure they get the best treatment for breast cancer - survival is the goal", she said.

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.

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