Friday, February 2, 2018

If Breast Cancer Doesn't Kill You, Heart Failure Might

File this in the category of the stuff we should have been told but weren't. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer, are given chemotherapy as part of their treatment. One of the drugs commonly used is called Doxorubicin, also known Adriamycin or Rubex, or as us patients have been known to call it 'red devil', which carries a significant cardiac risk.

When you are given it in chemo the nurses put on masks and special gowns to protect them. No thought of the patients. I was told it could cause some cardiac issues but now I am learning that the danger is very real and very concerning.

"“Both breast cancer and cardiovascular disease share risk factors,” said Dr. Susan Gilchrist, a cardiologist at MD Anderson whose research focuses on cardiorespiratory fitness in cancer patients. "That includes weight gain, loss of exercise or sedentary behaviors, and metabolic dysfunction, which are a risks factor for breast cancer recurrence and cardiovascular disease.”

The greatest risk is from the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, an anthracyclin. Eight treatments increase heart failure risk by 5 percent, up to a 48 percent increase after 14 doses, the doctors wrote in the statement.

But women with breast cancer are not encouraged to avoid treatment."


So there is a fairly significant risk of of cardiac damage but they are not going to encourage us to skip that treatment? If the you don't die of breast cancer, heart failure is more likely to kill you. Instead of skipping adriamycin for the benefit it gives, the advice is now to talk to your doctor. The problem with that idea (which is obviously written by someone who has not had cancer) is that patients with cancer care about only one thing when first diagnosed: get the effing cancer out of my body.

"“Any patient who is going to undergo breast cancer treatment — whether they have heart disease at the beginning or not — should be aware of the potential effects of the treatments on their heart,” said Dr. Laxmi Mehta, chair of the AHA writing committee and director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Program at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. “This should not deter or scare patients from undergoing breast cancer treatment, but should allow them to make informed decisions with their doctor on the best cancer treatment for them.”

With the statement, the Heart Association hopes to change perception of the biggest threats to women after beating cancer. Breast cancer survivors, over 65, are more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases, such as heart failure, rather than breast cancer."

That does not make me happy at all. I survive cancer and chemotherapy so I can die from heart failure? 

“We want patients to get the best treatment for their breast cancer,” said Mehta. “Everyone should have a conversation with their doctor about what are the side effects.”

Sorry not good enough. We need a better treatment for breast cancer that doesn't have such a hig risk of heart failure.

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