June 22, 2011

Breast Cancer & Heart Disease

(Ivanhoe Newswire)--Breast cancer accounts for almost a third of all cancer cases reported in women. Advances in the treatment for breast cancer, and early detection, have improved the chances of survival from the disease. New research has found that two thirds of women with breast cancer died from other causes and that over the length of the study cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death.

Researchers from the University of Colorado followed over 60,000 women in the United States who were at least 66 years old with a breast cancer diagnosis for up to 12 years. About half of the women participating in the study survived. Of those who did however, more than two thirds died from causes other than breast cancer such as cardiovascular disease which killed more women that the breast cancer itself.

The study found that women who were diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age who had a higher tumour grade were at the greatest risk of dying from the disease. A tumour grade is the degree of abnormality of the cancer cells, measuring the extent to which these cells are similar in appearance and function to healthy cells of the same tissue type. Over the course of the study, older women were found to be more likely to have other health problems resulting from previous cancer, cardiovascular disease, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or diabetes. The pattern of causes of death for these women matches what is seen among older women diagnosed with breast cancer in the general public. Cardiovascular disease was at the top of the list.

Jennifer Patnaik, from the University of Colorado, Denver, was quoted saying, "Cancer is a big killer and is responsible for about a quarter of all deaths. However breast cancer is not necessarily a death sentence and patients need to take care of their health to reduce their risk of dying from heart disease and other age-related diseases."

SOURCE: BioMed Central, June 20, 2011