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Childhood Cancer Survivors Prone to Early Heart Trouble
Date:5/16/2008

Problems surface at younger age than in people who didn't have cancer as children, study finds

FRIDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who had cancer as children or teens are more likely to experience cardiovascular disease, a new study found.

And the heart problems surface at a much earlier age than in people who did not suffer cancer as children.

Childhood cancer survivors "have approximately a five to 10 times increased risk of having heart disease compared to their healthy siblings," said study lead author Dr. Daniel A. Mulrooney, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Masonic Cancer Center of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Mulrooney was expected to present his findings Thursday night at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, in Chicago.

There are an estimated 270,000 survivors of childhood cancer in the United States, and 11 million cancer survivors total.

While the cancer survivors in the new study ranged in age from 8 to 51, the average age of those with heart problems was only 27.5 years.

"We're talking about a very young population that's having very significant cardiac disease and is likely not being monitored appropriately," Mulrooney added. "It is very important that they be followed and that risk factors and cardiovascular monitoring that we would think of in an older population be implemented in a younger population."

The findings aren't entirely surprising. Previous research, much of it with the same group of survivors, has shown an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer.

The new analysis, the longest follow-up to date, provides updated information on 14,358 five-year survivors of childhood cancer. All the participants were diagnosed with one of eight cancers (including leukemia, lymphoma and brain malignancies) at 21 years of age or younger, between 1970 and 1986
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