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Cardiovascular disease in cancer survivors
  1. Tochi M Okwuosa1,
  2. Sarah Anzevino2,
  3. Ruta Rao2
  1. 1Division of Cardiology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  2. 2Division of Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tochi M Okwuosa, Cardio-Oncology Services, Rush University Medical Center, 1717 West Congress Parkway, Kellogg Bldg, Suite 328, Chicago, IL 60612, USA; tokwuosa{at}


Certain cancer therapies, including radiation therapy and some types of chemotherapies, are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and events. Some of these effects such as those presented by anthracyclines, radiation therapy, cisplatin, as well as those presented by hormone therapy for breast cancer—usually taken for many years for some breast and prostate cancers—are long-lasting and associated with cardiovascular events risk more than 20 years after cancer treatment. Cardiovascular testing, diagnostic assessment of suspected cardiovascular symptomatology, as well as laboratory tests for CVD risk factors are imperative. The early recognition and treatment of CVD processes that arise in survivorship years is pivotal, with specific attention to some CVD processes with specific suggested treatment modalities. Preventive measures include adequate screening, the use of medications such as ACE inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers and/or beta blockers, statin therapy and aspirin in persons who warrant these medications, as well as therapeutic lifestyle modifications such as exercise/physical activity, weight loss and appropriate diet for a healthy lifestyle. Periodic follow-up with a good primary care physician who understands the risks associated with cancer therapy is important, and referral to onco-cardiology for further management of cardiovascular risk in these survivors is based on a patient's cardiovascular risk level and the type, amount and duration of cancer therapies received during the patient's lifetime.

  • Cancer survivors
  • cardiovascular disease
  • radiation therapy
  • hormone therapy
  • cardiac complications

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  • Contributors TMO responsible for conception and drafting of manuscript. SA contributed to drafting a section of the manuscript. RR oversaw the drafting of manuscript, cross checked and added references.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.