Indiscriminate Radiation Exposure Leads to Higher Cardiac Risk: Study

Recent studies have revealed that when patients suffering from stage III lung cancer underwent radiation therapy, there was an increase in the risk of cardiac events, depending upon the intensity of dose. Out of the 122 patients who were followed for an average of 8.8 years post-therapy, nearly 23% or 26 patients were found to have experienced a cardiac event at an average of 26 months, reported the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The participants received a radiation dose of 70 to 90 Gy, with 74 Gy as the average dose. The study was led by Kyle Wang, MD, from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Study at Michigan School of Medicine Reasserts Findings

A similar study conducted by a different team of scientists confirms the results. According to the findings of Robert T. Dess, MD, University of Michigan School of Medicine, 11% of the 125 patients witnessed a cardiac event at 2 years. Increase in radiation dose was directly associated with a 7% increased risk of cardiac events.

“The findings of the study challenge the view that reducing heart dose for stage III lung cancer is not important. Despite poor prognosis in these patients, higher heart doses are administered to them. They might also have additional comorbidities as well as a smoking history, thus leading to a higher risk”, write Wang and colleagues in the report.

The study has provoked several questions such as can the use of certain chemotherapeutic agents which are not typically seen as cardiotoxic in lung cancer strengthen the occurrence of radiation-induced cardiotoxity? While several questions are yet to be answered, it remains clear that the survival chances of this patient population are weakening with increasing indiscriminate doses of radiation to the heart.

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