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Kids who beat cancer still face heart risks

December 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Children who survive cancer have a significantly higher risk of developing heart disease later in life because of the cancer treatment they received.That's according to a new study, led by researchers at the University of Minnesota. They found that young adult survivors of childhood cancer are at risk of a range of heart problems, continuing up to 30 years after treatment.

The researchers compared data on more than 14,350 five-year cancer survivors with close to 3,900 siblings of cancer survivors. They found the cancer survivors were significantly more likely than siblings to report heart failure, heart attacks or heart disease.

Those who had been treated with chemotherapy had a two to five times higher risk of heart disease. Radiation treatment increased a cancer survivor's risk of heart problems two to six percent.

The number of young adults who experience the increased risk is expected to grow, as more children survive cancer.

"Healthcare professionals must be aware of these risks when caring for this growing population," said Daniel Mulrooney, lead researcher at the University of Minnesota.


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