Insurers usually won't pay for cancer survivors to keep seeing an oncologist, so primary care physicians need to be aware that women who were treated for breast cancer are at higher risk of heart disease, said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Association.
A second module on the website helped patients understand options for systemic treatment, such as chemotherapy.
Researchers enrolled 537 patients with newly diagnosed early-stage, breast cancer from multiple practices spread throughout four states.
Dr Tochi Okwuosa: "The problem is, if you are at risk, and not everybody is at risk, you get through treatment, you get back to your regular life and all is well until all is not well, and somebody tells you, 'You have heart failure'".
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.
But while many physicians praised the AHA report, some, such as Deanna Attai, a breast surgeon at the University of California at Los Angeles, anxious it could discourage women with high-risk cancer from getting aggressive treatment. This is what they said people should know about the intersection of breast cancer and heart health. Small studies also have shown that a drug called dexrazonxane can reduce the risk of heart damage in patients getting high doses of doxorubicin for advanced breast cancer, it added.
The interactive site was created to walk people systemically through key facts about breast cancer surgery, such as how often cancer recurs and the likelihood of needing additional surgery.More news: Worker who sent false Hawaii alert thought threat was real, FCC says
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In its first statement on the topic, the American Heart Association on Thursday said women should consider carefully the risks and benefits of any therapies that may hurt hearts.
Other treatments, such as radiation, can affect the heart arteries and cause the development of coronary artery disease or blockages. Certain therapies have been linked to weakened heart muscle, heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction.
The diseases share many common risk factors such as obesity, smoking and too little exercise, so reducing these can help. Herceptin studies have found a heart failure incidence of up to 4 percent, for instance.
Neelima Denduluri, a medical oncologist in Arlington, Virginia, said that increasingly doctors are tailoring treatments to the individual and that doctors don't have to choose between life-saving cancer therapies and cardio health.
Authors of the AHA statement concluded, "These data confirm that postmenopausal HRT is associated with both breast cancer and CVD. and this is a potentially modifiable risk factor for both diseases". "We want to make sure they get the best treatment for breast cancer - survival is the goal", she said.
Overall, "one of the great things about the cancer world right now is that there are more and more survivors", Mehta said.
In some cases, post cessation of the treatment and/or the addition of heart medicines can improve heart function.