Purpose of This Summary
This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the formal ranking system used by the PDQ Editorial Boards to assess evidence supporting the use of specific interventions or approaches. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.
The risk of health problems involving the heart and blood vessels increases after treatment with the following:
Radiation to the chest or spine: The risk of problems depends on the part of the heart that was exposed to radiation, the amount of radiation given, and whether the radiation was given in small or large doses.
Radiation to the brain or neck: The risk of problems depends on the part of the brain or neck that was treated with radiation and the amount of radiation given.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy with anthracyclines such as doxorubicin, daunorubicin, idarubicin, epirubicin, and mitoxantrone. The risk of problems depends on the total dose of anthracycline given. It also depends on whether a drug called dexrazoxane was given during treatment with anthracyclines to lessen heart and blood vessel damage.
Stem cell transplant.
Childhood cancer survivors who were treated with both radiation to the chest and chemotherapy using anthracyclines are at greatest risk. New treatments that decrease the amount of radiation given and use lower doses of chemotherapy may decrease the risk of heart and blood vessel late effects.
The following may also increase the risk of heart and blood vessel late effects:
Being young at the time of treatment (the younger the child, the greater the risk).