But surveillance and other strategies — especially exercise — can limit the risk.
Image: © Khuong Hoang/Getty Images
Better treatments for breast cancer have contributed to the growing number of breast cancer survivors, now about three million in the United States. However, these women may face a heightened risk of heart disease from the cardiotoxic effects of chemotherapy and radiation, according to a statement from the American Heart Association in the Feb. 20, 2018, issue of Circulation.
Doctors have long known that certain cancer drugs can decrease the heart's pumping ability, especially doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and trastuzumab (Herceptin), two common treatments for breast cancer. Many women receive radiation therapy as well, which can cause heart tissue to scar or stiffen, possibly leading to valve disorders, coronary artery disease, or other heart problems. But specialists who focus on keeping the heart healthy during and after cancer treatment — known as cardio-oncologists — can offer strategies to both prevent and treat heart damage from cancer therapy.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.