URMC Research: Protecting Hearts of Childhood Leukemia Survivors
About 75 percent of children with leukemia who take chemotherapy face life-threatening heart problems as they age, but an international study led by a University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) investigator shows that giving a cardio-protective drug during cancer treatment may prevent the damage.
Asselin presented data and took part in a forum at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago earlier this year. Asselin, along with hundreds of other pediatric cancer experts, discussed heart disease and second malignancies – the unfortunate, severe risks associated with aggressive treatment of children.
“Today the majority of children with leukemia will be cured,” Asselin said. “As our young people survive, though, we believe we will see many more cardiac issues. It is a problem that must be fixed because it is the leading cause of death later in life among these patients.”
One part of the equation involves getting teenagers and young adult cancer survivors, who tend to engage in riskier behaviors, to be aware of potential problems and make healthy lifestyle choices (no smoking; exercise; careful follow-up appointments with a physician), Asselin said.