Breast Cancer Radiation Raises Heart Disease Risk -- But What Does That Really Mean?

breast cancer radiationThe scariest thing about a recent study examining the connection between heart disease and radiation in breast cancer treatment, if you ask me, is that experts can't seem to agree on what it means. We're talking 43 years of research involving 2,168 women -- resulting in evidence that radiation for breast cancer treatment does indeed increase women's risk of heart disease. Seems pretty cut and dry, right? Except, maybe not. It all boils down to one question: Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Um, maybe? According to one oncologist, "This is a major concern." According to a similarly-minded cardiologist, this study "may represent just the tip of the iceberg." Yikes! Meanwhile, others have called the dangers of radiation "modest." Compared to ... letting cancer go unchecked?

To be fair, radiation techniques have evolved significantly during the past 43 years; women undergoing radiation today are at significantly lower risk: "It would be a real tragedy if this put women off having radiotherapy for breast cancer," says the study's lead researcher.

I understand his point, but that doesn't make this decision any easier for women who have no choice but to, well, make a choice. What are the alternatives to radiation, after all? Maybe the heart risk aspect is moot until different treatments are developed.

Would the results of this study scare you away from radiation?


Image via Tips Times/Flickr

breasts, cancer


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Coles... Coles_mom

If you let the breast cancer go on its own, it'll take you out quickly. Heart disease will let you live longer.

Baila Banson

A new study may give younger women new hope in choosing a less aggressive surgical option to treat breast cancer. It removes part of the breast instead of the entire breast. Checked Out it:

Baila Banson

There are different types of breast cancer such as ductal carcinoma (most common form), lobular carcinoma, invasive or infiltrating breast cancer which spreads out of the original tumor site and attacks other parts of breast and body. Check Out it:

Erika Warner

If I'd spoken to a knowledgable doctor about the risks vs results of radiation treatment for my case there's NO WAY on earth I ever would have done it. ESPECIALLY now that it's harmed my health in so many other ways when apparently the risk of the smallest positive margin from my DCIS being an issue was so slim. Patients need to be given far better advice instead of having excessive treatments forced on them by threat of "you have CANCER - don't you want to live?". We're given the opportunity to ask questions, but don't know what to ask when our heads are spinning with the diagnosis.

1-5 of 5 comments