Radiation therapy is a cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. This is due to the significant degree of atherosclerosis seen in the vessels in the vicinity of the area being irradiated. Radiation-induced peripheral arterial disease is increasingly being recognized as large populations of cancer patients survive longer, yet it is a problem that is often under reported. Although it has most commonly been associated with carotid artery disease, all vascular beds are prone to this form of injury. The injury is accelerated by usual risk factors for atherosclerosis. Developing a healthy lifestyle, dietary prudence and the aggressive treatment of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia should all be encouraged in this patient population. When revascularization strategies are warranted, the percutaneous approach may be superior to open surgery as technical difficulties may arise in the fibrotic, scarred tissue. Stenting with distal embolic protection devices should be considered as the treatment of choice for patients with radiation-induced carotid artery disease. Several reports also suggest good results with balloon angioplasty with or without stenting in the case of radiation-induced renal, iliac, and femoral artery disease. Lifelong antiplatelet therapy may be appropriate.
2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.