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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Penn State: Research Finds Cancer Patients Have Increased Risk of Dying from Cardiovascular-related Conditions

A Penn State assistant professor of public health sciences and a radiation oncologist from Penn State Cancer Institute have uncovered that cancer patients have an increased risk of cardiovascular-related death. The research, led by Dr. Kathleen Sturgeon, and Dr. Nicholas Zaorsky, found that for patients with cancers such as breast, prostate, endometrial, and thyroid, half will die from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The recently published study explores the number of CVD-related deaths in the U.S. from 1973 to 2012 and compares rates among the general public to more 3.2 million cancer patients. The data includes 28 types of cancer and deaths resulting from heart disease, high blood pressure, cerebrovascular disease, blocked arteries and aortic damage.

According to the findings, in the European Heart Journal, 38 percent of cancer patients died from cancer, while 11 percent of them died from CVD. Among the deaths from CVD, 76 percent were from heart disease. For cancer patients, the research shows that the risk of dying from CVD was highest during the first year post-diagnosis and increased for patients under 35 years old.

The findings provide life-saving information for patients and health care providers. Gaining a better understanding of these risks will increase awareness about CVD among cancer patients and highlight the need for improved cardiovascular care.

“Increasing awareness of this risk may spur cancer survivors to implement healthy lifestyle behaviors that not only decrease their risk of cardiovascular disease, but also the risk of cancer recurrence,” said Dr. Sturgeon.

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