Breast cancer survivor offers wisdom at Faulkner satellite center
Call 877-422-3324 today to make an appointment
Make your appointment or second opinion with Dana-Farber today to meet with an onsite specialist.
Can’t get to Boston? Explore our Online Second Opinion service to get expert advice from Dana-Farber oncologists.
Toll-Free Number866-408-DFCI (3324)
Discover the ways to give and how to get involved to support Dana-Farber.
Poet Richard Fox gains insight – and material – through cancer treatment
A family faces cancer in an unfamiliar city – with help
Choosing mastectomy or not: Studying young women's surgical choices
Jeff's targeted therapy has kept his advanced lung cancer at bay.
A new report showing that breast cancer patients treated with low doses of radiation therapy have a heightened risk of heart disease suggests that physicians need to work with patients before, during, and after treatment to minimize that risk, according to an accompanying editorial in the March 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The editorial, by Javid Moslehi, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, states that while radiation therapy has played a key role in reducing breast cancer mortality rates, the new study shows that such therapy — even at the low doses used in modern treatments — carries greater potential for producing long-term heart problems than was previously known. The study, led by researchers at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, found that the potential heart-harming effects of radiation therapy were especially pronounced in women who were at greater risk of a heart attack prior to the therapy.
That finding is particularly important because there are a variety of steps women — and men — can take to reduce their overall risk of heart disease, writes Moslehi, who is the director of cardio-oncology in Dana-Farber's Adult Survivorship Program. These steps include keeping one's weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure under control through diet, exercise, and, if necessary, medication.
The findings highlight the need for cancer and heart physicians to collaborate in the treatment of breast cancer patients receiving radiation therapy, Moslehi concludes. "An important lesson for the oncologist may be that the time to address concerns about cardiovascular 'survivorship' is at the time of cancer diagnosis and before treatment rather than after completion of therapy," he writes. "Similarly, cardiologists need to assess prior exposure to radiation therapy as a significant cardiovascular risk factor in survivors of breast cancer."
Dr. Jay Harris, chair of the department of radiation oncology at Dana-Farber, comments on the study and what radiation oncologists are doing to minimize heart risk.