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When cancer treatment affects the heart
- By Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
The growing field of cardio-oncology strives to help people with cancer protect their cardiovascular health.
The number of cancer survivors in the United States now exceeds 18 million — a record-breaking number that’s expected to keep rising over time. This positive trend stems mainly from the earlier detection of many types of cancer coupled with more effective treatments.
As improved therapies continue to extend lives, people with cancer may be more likely to die of something else, especially heart disease. "Modern cancer treatments often lead to long remissions from cancer," says Dr. Ohad Oren, a cardiology fellow at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. However, side effects from cancer therapies can affect the heart and blood vessels, possibly causing serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, he says. Broader recognition of these potential problems has increased referrals to cardio-oncology clinics, which focus on preventing and managing cardiovascular problems in people who are undergoing (or have completed) treatment for cancer.
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About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
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