Jama logo Even after overcoming cancer in childhood, various other ailments seem to envelop such individuals. In fact, just last week we presented a tidbit suggesting childhood cancer survivors face heightened risk of death after 25 years. A latest study apparently exposed the link between childhood cancer survival and elevated risk of long-term abnormalities in cardiac function.

In order to affirm this correlation, investigators examined 601 childhood cancer survivors. All the study subjects had continued to live for five years or more and were dependent on past diagnosis and treatment. Helena J. van der Pal, M.D., from the Emma Children’s Hospital/Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues aimed to ascertain the prevalence and determinants of left ventricular dysfunction in a large cohort of long-term childhood cancer survivors. It was mentioned that all the survivors were treated with various cardiotoxic therapies.

The scientists allege, “Unfortunately, improved survival is accompanied by the occurrence of late treatment effects. Cardiovascular disease and cardiac mortality are among the most serious late effects. Several population-based studies observed a six- to eight-fold increased mortality owing to cardiovascular disease among childhood cancer survivors compared with the general population.”

On completion of the investigation, it was noted that 27 percent of childhood cancer survivors reported abnormal cardiac function. This abnormality appeared in the long-term follow-up on an average duration of 15.4 years. Most of these cases registered were by patients provided with combined cancer treatments. However, no link between cardiac dysfunction and sex, high-dose cyclophosphamide or ifosfamide which are two cancer treatment drugs was ascertained.

The experts said, “In conclusion, more than 25 percent of young adult childhood cancer survivors had subclinical [early stages, little to no symptoms] cardiac dysfunction at their first visit to the outpatient clinic for late effects of childhood cancer. Continued monitoring of all childhood cancer survivors treated with potentially cardiotoxic therapy with or without subclinical cardiac dysfunction is necessary to identify childhood cancer survivors who could possibly benefit from early treatment, which could avoid further deterioration of cardiac function.”

Especially young patients apparently belonged to the 27 percent childhood cancer survivors with cardiac dysfunction. Such patients may face a greater threat of developing clinical heart failure in the future.

The study is published in the July 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.