Cardiac Damage from Radiation
These are comments from BreastCancer.org about a recent study looking at longterm cardiac damage from radiation therapy. Note that the researchers looked at women who had been treated from 1954 to 1984. Fortunately, radiation therapy machines have come a long way since then, and it is fair to assume that risks are smaller. It is worth, however, inquiring whether your center's equipment is up to date. Here is an excerpt and then a link to read more:
CV Mortality Rises After Radiation for Breast Cancer
What breastcancer.org says about this article..CV Mortality Rises After Radiation for Breast Cancer
This study found that women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer decades ago who got radiation therapy were 56% more likely to die from heart problems later in life compared to women who didn't get radiation therapy.
Researchers looked at the medical records of 4,456 French women who were treated for early-stage breast cancer between 1954 and 1984. The average age of the women was 55. About 66% of the women got radiation therapy after surgery; 33% didn't. At the time these women were treated, radiation therapy was more aggressively used after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence (the cancer coming back) compared to the way it's used now. This was because using chemotherapy after surgery to reduce recurrence risk wasn't common at that time.
Half the women were followed for more than 28 years, the other half for less time. More than half of the women (2,637) had died by the time this study was published; 421 of the women died from heart problems. The researchers compared the two groups of women (those who got radiation and those who didn't) to see if one group was more likely to die from heart problems.
Women who got radiation therapy were 76% more likely to die from a heart problem and 33% more likely to die from a stroke. Heart problems that caused death included plaque building up in the coronary arteries, congestive heart failure, and heart rhythm abnormalities. Heart valve damage was another heart problem that caused death and was linked to radiation therapy. While not very many women died of heart valve damage, this cause of death was nine times more common in women who got radiation therapy compared to women who didn't.