“In a new study from Kaiser Permanente, researchers found the use of aromatase inhibitors, hormone-therapy drugs used to treat patients with breast cancer, was not associated with an increased risk of fatal cardiovascular events, including heart attacks or stroke, compared with tamoxifen, another commonly prescribed anti-cancer drug that works on hormones and which has been associated with a serious risk of stroke.
“While women taking aromatose inhibitors did not have an increased risk of death from heart attacks or stroke, the study, published today in JAMA Oncology, found that those who only used aromatase inhibitors or used the drugs after tamoxifen treatment had a 26 to 29 percent higher risk of less serious cardiovascular events, such as abnormal heart beat and pericarditis (a swelling and irritation of the thin membrane surrounding the heart), compared with those who only used tamoxifen.”
Do you have questions about this story? Let us know in a comment below. If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Ask Cancer Commons service.
“Last month, the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that six chemotherapy regimens commonly given to patients with early-stage breast cancer vary widely in their side effects. The researchers found that some drug combinations are more likely to lead to hospitalization than others.
“The finding, while hardly surprising, points to the value of patients and doctors having fuller discussions about chemotherapy choices. An accompanying editorial emphasizes that because most patients are likely to live for a long time after initial therapy for breast cancer, and options abound, chemotherapy decisions should be more granular than is typical in practice.
“The takeaway is that major differences exist among chemotherapy regimens that are routinely given to patients with early-stage breast cancer. Taking ‘it,’ chemotherapy, is not an all-or-none decision.
“This matters because over 230,000 people – almost entirely, but not exclusively women – will receive a new breast cancer diagnosis this year in the United States. Most will have early-stage disease. And while many of those individuals will consider if they should have chemotherapy, or not, very few will ask their oncologists details about specific drug combinations.”
“Breast cancer awareness campaigns stress saving the breasts – but what about the heart? Breast cancer patients who are positive for the HER2 gene may be at increased risk for heart damage during chemotherapy, according to a new study. Cardio-oncology is a relatively new field of research, emerging as scientists and doctors understand the connections between cancer treatment and the heart.”