Radiation Therapy For Breast Cancer Causing Heart Failure Later In Life For Survivors

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Radiation is often considered the lesser of two evils when it comes to breast cancer treatments. The more aggressive option of Chemotherapy’s tragic depreciation of a person’s body often overshadows just how dangerous radiation therapy can be. When it comes to breast cancer, the medical community really only offers a few options: Remove breast before diagnosis, remove breast after diagnosis, radiation therapy, chemotherapy. With no alternative health options being funded, pharmaceutical companies have women relatively pigeon holed.

Radiation therapy is often considered the gentlest treatment available. Radiation therapy targets cancer cells though it still wipes out surrounding cells. The immediate effects of any treatment rarely tell the entire story, as is the case with Radiation Therapy. Long-term studies are now showing that Radiation Therapy can ultimately kill. In fact, the new push is early detection of cardiotoxicity in breast cancer survivors who used Radiation Therapy. A new study aims to show that heart failure can occur more than 20 years following the therapy.

Breast RT can lead to secondary effects due to the presence of neighboring normal tissues within the irradiation field, including the heart. The severity of radiation-induced toxicity to healthy tissues can unfortunately affect the quality of life of cancer survivors. Breast RT has been shown to be associated with long-term increased risk of heart failure, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction and finally cardiovascular death more than 10 years after RT.


Breast cancer RT irradiation of the heart has been shown to be associated with long-term cardiac toxicity such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction and finally cardiovascular death more than 10 years after RT with relative risks within the range of 1.2 to 3.5 by comparing left breast treated patients (with higher exposure to heart) to right ones or unexposed ones [14]. Moreover, cardiac damage was shown to be correlated with the heart-absorbed dose with 7.4 % rate increase of ischemic heart disease per one Gray (95 % confidence interval, 2.9 to 14.5; P < 0.001), with no minimum threshold for risk [4]. Retrospective studies based on records of patients treated with radiation therapy for breast cancer who had undergone a coronary angiography many years after RT, also showed a link between radiation and location of stenosis as stenosis were often present in left anterior descending artery [57]. These studies revealed the importance of simultaneous consideration of the location of radiation doses at the structures of the heart combined with localized effects, particularly in the coronary arteries [8, 9].

The core competency of the study revolves around gaining an understanding of just how much (and to what degree) damage is done to the cardiac tissue during the therapy. The study hopes to show somehow trends in the therapy more immediately so an understanding of why it happens later can be ascertained. In other words, teaching oncologist how to avoid that damage.

But the reality is that cancer treatment is a billion dollar business predicated on sick people staying sick. Preventative solutions have little place in pharma’s global financial domination. We do little in the way of looking into alternative breast health treatments. The above study will only help to conceal this working idea. The goal is rarely to help people. We hear little about breast cancer’s response to nutrients, vitamins, and dietary changes, but there is a numerous group of cancer survivors who have applied such alternative strategies.

Photo by Muffet