Comprehensive Care Needed for Breast-Cancer Survivors

Older breast-cancer survivors need comprehensive care to help them fight heart disease, osteoporosis and high blood pressure, according to new research.

Women in this category are likely to face these illnesses after their diagnosis of breast cancers. Because of that, they should watch their weight and get regular exercise. The kind of cancer treatment the women received may be a factor, as well as their weight and age.

The findings, by Nadia Obi of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, who collaborated with the group of Prof. Chang-Claude from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, were published in Springer’s Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

Obi’s research group set out to identify risk factors that could trigger the development of heart disease, osteoporosis and hypertension in breast cancer survivors. They looked at statistics from 2,542 breast cancer patients between 50 and 74 years old.

Patients, residents of the city and state of Hamburg and the Rhine-Neckar Karlsruhe region in Germany, were asked about health conditions before and after their breast-cancer diagnosis. The investigators took into account lifestyle factors, the type of treatment they received and their levels of education.

The study revealed that women with a higher body mass index (BMI) and patients who received trastuzumab to reduce the risk of cancer relapse had an increased risk for hypertension. Women with higher education levels had less hypertension.

On the other hand, women with a lower body weight were more likely to develop osteoporosis. The research findings confirmed previous research that treatment with aromatase inhibitors could trigger the development of osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases in breast cancer survivors. These inhibitors are generally used to prevent the reoccurrence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Obi’s research team advised that the follow-up health care that breast cancer survivors receive should include screening for any treatment-related health problems. They should also be monitored for signs of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

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