Breast cancer therapy: All clear for the heart

Many breast cancer therapies cause damage to the heart. However, in the largest study of its kind so far, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg have now shown that the risk of death from heart disease in breast cancer patients following radiotherapy or chemotherapy is no higher than it is among the average population. Good risk management in the hospitals as well as control screenings at short intervals seem to make up for elevated risks.

Breast cancer is the second most frequent cancer worldwide and the most common cancer in women. About 70,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Germany alone annually. However, improved screening measures and more effective treatment methods have considerably lowered the risk of succumbing to the disease. “However, a number of clinical trials have suggested that both chemotherapy and radiotherapy are associated with the risk of suffering heart disease as a consequence of treatment,” says Hermann Brenner from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. Little has been known so far about the risks of dying from these side effect-related diseases of the heart. But for some patients who have received therapy and survived, the risk of dying from


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