Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Kids Who Beat Cancer Face Heart Risks

Childhood Cancer Survivors Up to 10 Times More Likely to Develop Heart Disease in Early Adulthood
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 16, 2008 -- Kids who beat childhood cancer are five to 10 times more likely than their healthy siblings to develop heart disease in early adulthood, according to the largest study ever to look at the issue.

"Childhood cancer survivors in their 20s are developing the kinds of heart problems we typically see in older adults," says lead researcher Daniel A. Mulrooney, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota's Masonic Cancer Center in Minneapolis.

There are more than 270,000 survivors of childhood cancer in the United States, Mulrooney says. He is scheduled to present the findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

More than 65% of children and young adults are now cured of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Heart Risks Increased in Child Cancer Survivors

The analysis from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study involved more than 14,000 young adults who were diagnosed with a childhood cancer between 1970 and 1986. They had survived a variety of cancers, including Hodgkin's disease, brain or kidney tumors, leukemia, or lymphoma.

Participants, whose average age was 28 at the time of the analysis, were diagnosed with cancer at an average age of 8. They were followed for an average of 20 years.

Compared with their healthy siblings, the cancer survivors were:

Previous findings from the study, which features the largest group of people in the world who beat childhood cancer, showed that survivors are also at increased risk of other health woes, including lung scarring, blood clots, infertility, and second cancers.

Mulrooney tells WebMD that a major culprit behind the increased risk of heart disease as well as other health woes is the radiation used to diagnose and treat some cancers. Chemotherapy drugs called anthracyclines, such as Adriamycin, are also to blame, he says.

Mulrooney says that recent changes in the delivery of radiation and chemotherapy probably place children today at lower risk of secondary health problems.

For example, radiation is more targeted, right to the area of a tumor, "which would hopefully spare the heart," he says.

At the same time, some of the same chemotherapy drugs used in the 1970s are still helping people beat cancer today. And there are no long-term data to prove today's regimens are safer, Mulrooney notes.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas