A recent study allays concerns that early-stage breast cancer patients who receive radiation treatment might have a long-term increased risk for heart problems.

Study Findings

The study included 50 stage 1 and stage 2 breast cancer patients who underwent either breast-conservation therapy using radiation (26 patients) or modified radical mastectomy alone (24 patients). Mastectomy is a type of surgery that involves removing the breast. Doctors consider both to be effective treatments, but they have different side effects.

More than 25 years after treatment, both groups had similar levels of heart function and rates of heart problems. For example, the rate of heart attack within 10 years of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment was 5.1% for breast-conservation patients and 5.7% for mastectomy patients.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology in Boston.


"Over the past two decades, radiation therapy has become more precise and safer with modern techniques," said lead author Charles Simone II, MD, a radiation oncologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

"We are pleased to find that early-stage breast cancer patients treated with modern radiation therapy treatment planning techniques do not have an increased risk of long-term cardiac toxicity and that breast-conservation therapy with radiation should remain a standard treatment option," he added.

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