Survivors of childhood cancer may have an increased risk of long-term abnormalities in cardiac function, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2010 Jul 26;170(14):1247-55).

The study, led by Helena van der Pal, MD, from Emma Children’s Hospital/Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, evaluated the prevalence and determinates of left ventricular dysfunction in a large cohort of long-term childhood cancer survivors treated with different potentially cardiotoxic therapies. Researchers focused on the diagnosis and treatment of 601 participants who had survived their childhood cancers for 5 years or more.

The researcher team reported that abnormal cardiac function was observed during long-term follow-up in 27% of childhood cancer survivors. Additionally, abnormal cardiac function was most common in patients who received combined cancer treatments.

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“In conclusion, more than 25% 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,” the authors concluded. “Continued monitoring of all childhood cancer survivors treated with potentially cardiotoxic therapy with or without subclinical dysfunction is necessary to identify childhood cancer survivors who could possibly benefit from early treatment, which could avoid further deterioration of cardiac function.”