For adult survivors of childhood cancer, cardiovascular disease presents at an earlier age, is associated with substantial morbidity, and is often asymptomatic. According to researchers, the type and frequency of screening that should be used in this group is not clear. The study is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
The number of adult survivors of childhood or adolescent cancer is projected to surpass 500,000 by 2020. Historically, the leading cause of death has been cancer recurrence. However, late effects of therapy have become the leading cause of death 30 years after diagnosis, and deaths are frequently attributed to premature cardiovascular disease. Utilizing data from the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study, researchers systematically assessed cardiac outcomes among survivors of childhood cancer.
The data showed evidence of cardiomyopathies, conduction or rhythm abnormalities and coronary artery and valvular diseases in substantial numbers of adult survivors of childhood cancer who were exposed to cardiotoxic therapies. Many of the patients were younger and asymptomatic, suggesting that prospective studies to assess the potential value of screening for cardiac abnormalities in adult survivors of childhood cancer are needed.