People with heart disease are known to be at an increased risk for cancer, but a new study has quantified that risk. According to the study, patients with CHD are at a higher risk of developing cancer. In fact, the incidence of cancer in patients with CHD is 23% higher compared with matched controls without CHD.
The study was funded by the Swedish state, the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund, and the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation.
In study, the researchers identified individuals with CHD born between 1930 and 2017 in the Swedish Health Register. Then, each CHD patient was matched by sex and birth year from the general population with ten controls without CHD. This showed that patients with CHD were 23% more likely to develop cancer than matched controls without CHD. Also, the highest risk for developing cancer was found in children.
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a birth defect that affects the heart. It can cause problems with the heart’s structure, how it works, or both. CHD occurs in about 1 in 100 babies. It can range from mild to life-threatening.
Many babies with CHD need surgery, transplant, or other treatments soon after they’re born. With treatment, most babies with CHD grow up to live healthy lives. However, some babies do not survive.
According to the study, some signs, symptoms and transplants are known to increase cancer risk.
Also, no association was found between an increased risk of cancer and Congenital cardiac surgery in the total study population. However, the cancer risk in children with CHD who underwent heart surgery during the first year of life was about 2 times higher than in controls.
Researchers believe that this study will highlight the risk of cancer in CHD patients so that clinicians are aware of the risk.
Resarchers explains that early thymectomy or damage to the thymus gland by sternotomy is of great importance during cardiac surgery. Further studies are necessary to study other risk factors that may be related to cancer in this vulnerable group of patients.
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- Risk of cancer in young and older patients with congenital heart disease and the excess risk of cancer by syndromes, organ transplantation and cardiac surgery: Swedish health registry study (1930–2017): https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanepe/article/PIIS2666-7762(22)00100-4/fulltext