Cardiovascular risk and communication among early stage breast cancer survivors

Patient Educ Couns. 2017 Jul;100(7):1360-1366. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2017.02.010. Epub 2017 Feb 10.


Objective: African American (AA) women have disproportionately high rates of cardiovascular (CV) risk factors that, coupled with potentially cardiotoxic breast cancer (BC) therapies, place them at risk of adverse CV outcomes. The purpose of this study was to assess CV risk factors among white and AA BC survivors and perceptions of patient-provider CV-related communication and post-treatment information needs.

Methods: Early-stage, English-speaking BC survivors were recruited through community-based survivorship organizations/clinics in New Jersey. Qualitative, semi-structured interviews and a brief survey of socio-demographics and comorbidities were conducted.

Results: BC survivors reported high rates of CV risk factors. Most reported their health as good/excellent despite their cancer history and CV risk profile. Approximately half of overweight/obese BC survivors reported no weight-related conversation with their health care team and, among those who reported discussion, 36% indicated it was self-initiated and dismissed. More than half of BC survivors' reported a desire for lifestyle-related information and guidance.

Conclusion: BC survivors may not understand how their separate, yet cumulative, health issues can impact their CV risk.

Practice implications: Patient-provider communication on behavioral risk factor modification and CV risk is needed, particularly among at-risk subgroups such as AA and obese BC survivors, to improve BC and CV outcomes.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Cardiovascular; Communication; Obesity; Patient education; Risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Communication*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • New Jersey / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires