Adjuvant radiation therapy in the management of early stage breast cancer, Hodgkin's disease, and to a lesser extent other thoracic malignancies has led to a significant improvement in disease-specific survival. Cardiovascular disease is now the most common nonmalignancy cause of death in radiation-treated cancer survivors, most often occurring decades after treatment. The spectrum of radiation-induced cardiac disease is broad, potentially involving any component of the heart. The relative risk of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, valvular heart disease, pericardial disease, conduction abnormalities, and sudden cardiac death is particularly increased. Over the years contemporary techniques have been introduced to reduce cardiac morbidity and mortality in radiation-treated cancer survivors; however, the long-term effects on the heart still remain unclear, mandating longer follow-up. Awareness and early identification of potential cardiac complications is crucial in cancer survivors, with the management often being quite complex. This review examines the epidemiology of radiation-induced cardiac disease together with its pathophysiology and explores the available treatment strategies and the potential utility of various screening strategies for affected cancer survivors.
Copyright © 2013 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.