But in its first-ever statement on the most common female cancer, the American Heart Association warned on Thursday that breast cancer survivors, especially those treated with common chemotherapies, are at increased risk for heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases.
Jessica Rhee, clinical trials medical director at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, said she puts together a care plan for all of her patients, including how often they should see each doctor and for which tests.
It said an unprecedented number of women are surviving the disease yet face a risk of developing heart problems, in part due to their cancer treatments. "And that's why Life's Simple 7 is important for all patients with and without breast cancer".
A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming, and it's not easy to follow that news with warnings of CVD. "I have a family member who just finished her radiation for breast cancer, and I don't want to scare her about potential cardiac effects of her treatment". "Let's give these drugs and treatments to people who need them - the risk-benefit is more favorable - and let's do all we can to determine who is unlikely to benefit from the drugs and spare them the risks".
But while many physicians praised the AHA report, some, such as Deanna Attai, a breast surgeon at the University of California at Los Angeles, anxious it could discourage women with high-risk cancer from getting aggressive treatment.
Despite prostate cancer overtaking breast cancer to become the third biggest cancer killer, the shift does not represent a worsening situation for those with the disease.
However, lung cancer and then bowel cancer are the two most common cancers to die from in Britain.
Furthermore, women who have had breast cancer are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than women without a history of breast cancer.
The association between breast cancer and CVD begins with overlapping risk factors, including older age, obesity, and smoking.
About 12 percent of American women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy drug used in breast cancer therapy that can lead to the damage of heart cells. For some patients, however, heart damage may be permanent.
Other therapies could also affect the heart arteries and cause the development of coronary artery disease or blockages, the study added.
For example, some cancer treatments, such as HER-2 targeted therapies, can cause weakening of the heart muscle, a condition known as heart failure.
Overall, the scientists reported that 61 per cent of patients who used the interactive tool had a high knowledge of treatment options, compared to 42 per cent of patients who viewed the static material.
And, of course, lifestyle changes can help prevent both diseases. That's because the risk of developing a heart problem is lifelong with some of the treatments. And it stressed that breast cancer survivors can improve their chances of a long, healthy life by exercising regularly and sticking to a healthy diet.