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Heart failure increases cancer risk, study suggests

June 26, 2013

Improved treatments have helped heart failure patients survive the condition, but a new study suggests they may face an increased risk of cancer in the aftermath. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery analyzed data from two 11-year periods encompassing more than 500 patients, and they say the findings highlight the need for continued surveillance after heart failure treatment.

The results, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, reveal that patients diagnosed with heart failure between 1991 and 2002 also had an 86 percent higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer than their healthy peers. Experts speculate the increased risk could be due to side effects from treatment or improvements to screening methods.

"Heart failure patients are not only at an increased risk for developing cancer, but the occurrence of cancer increases mortality in these patients," said study co-author Dr. Veronique Roger. "These findings underscore the importance of cancer surveillance in the management of heart failure patients."

Heart failure is among the most significant threats to healthy aging. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 5.7 million Americans have heart failure.