Radiation Therapy, Cardiac Risk Factors, and Cardiac Toxicity in Early-Stage Breast Cancer Patients

John J. Doyle, Alfred I. Neugut, Judith S. Jacobson, Jian Wang, Russell McBride, Alison Grann, Victor R. Grann, Dawn Hershman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Purpose: The benefits of adjuvant radiation therapy (RT) for breast cancer may be counterbalanced by the risk of cardiac toxicity. We studied the cardiac effects of RT and the impact of pre-existing cardiac risk factors (CRFs) in a population-based sample of older patients with breast cancer. Methods and Materials: In the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End-Results (SEER)-Medicare database of women ≥65 years diagnosed with Stages I to III breast cancer from January 1, 1992 to December 31, 2000, we used multivariable logistic regression to model the associations of demographic and clinical variables with postmastectomy and postlumpectomy RT. Using Cox proportional hazards regression, we then modeled the association between treatment and myocardial infarction (MI) and ischemia in the 10 or more years after diagnosis, taking the predictors of treatment into account. Results: Among 48,353 women with breast cancer; 19,897 (42%) were treated with lumpectomy and 26,534 (55%) with mastectomy; the remainder had unknown surgery type (3%). Receipt of RT was associated with later year of diagnosis, younger age, fewer comorbidities, nonrural residence, and chemotherapy. Postlumpectomy RT was also associated with white ethnicity and no prior history of heart disease (HD). The RT did not increase the risk of MI. Presence of MI was associated with age, African American ethnicity, advanced stage, nonrural residence, more than one comorbid condition, a hormone receptor-negative tumor, CRFs and HD. Among patients who received RT, tumor laterality was not associated with MI outcome. The effect of RT on the heart was not influenced by HD or CRFs. Conclusion: It appears unlikely that RT would increase the risk of MI in elderly women with breast cancer, regardless of type of surgery, tumor laterality, or history of CRFs or HD, for at least 10 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-93
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Cardiotoxicity
  • Elderly
  • Radiation therapy
  • SEER-Medicare


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