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A Woman’s Heart, Impact of Chemotherapy on Heart Health

By Blogger
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Do you ever feel like you’re just stuck between a rock and a hard spot? That you’re @#($*& if you do and !)#(*$& if you don’t?

I think that if we admit I, all of us have been there at one time or another in our life. Sometimes, life just simply does not play fair.

I recently came across a tidbit of information that just seems to fall into this category. It’s just, well, to be frank, simply unfair. What was this information? I found out that some chemotherapy can increase the risk of heart disease. Can you believe that? Isn’t it enough that someone has to deal with cancer? To have the additional worry that your cancer treatment might hurt your heart, just seems to add insult on top of injury.

Heart disease is referred to as one of the “late side effects” of chemotherapy. It’s called “late” because the symptoms of the heart damage or disease may not present themselves for months or in some cases, until years after the chemotherapy is completed. According to the Mayo clinic, several chemo drugs appear to increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk of heart attack during an infusion is greater as well as the risk of developing cardiomyopathy. (Cardiomyopathy is a weakness in the heart muscle.) In addition, some of the newer cancer treatments such as Herceptin (used in the treatment of breast cancer) have been linked to heart damage.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center conducted a study of 5,836 cancer survivors. In the study, they tracked the top four health problems reported by cancer survivors. While not the number one reported health concern, heart disease was reported by all study participants. The breakdown of heart disease by cancer type is as follows:

• Acute Leukemia: 10.3%
• Breast: 15.3%
• Chronic Leukemia: 15%
• Colorectal: 15%
• Gastrointestinal (Colorectal, Esophageal, Liver, Pancreatic, Stomach): 19%
• Genitourinary (Bladder, Kidney, Penile, Prostate, Testicular): 17%
• Gynecologic (Cervical, Endometrial [Uterine], Fallopian Tube, Ovarian, Vulvar: 13%
• Head & Neck: 14%
• Hodgkin's Disease: 26%
• Lung: 18%
• Lymphoma: 18%
• Melanoma: 12%

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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