Heart damage due to radiation?

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Question from AuntieE: I am currently going through testing for a possible heart condition. My cardiologist suspects constrictive pericarditis as a result of radiation for breast cancer. I had radiation treatment 4 years ago. What can I expect and how did this happen? I do not recall being advised that radiation therapy could damage my heart.
Answers - Generosa Grana, M.D., F.A.C.P First of all, the risk of radiation to the heart is quite small with new techniques and treatment planning. It would be quite unusual to develop constrictive pericarditis secondary to radiation and I would look to other etiologies, such as a viral syndrome or other. Again, the cardiac effects from radiation tend to be small and depend on whether radiation is being done post-mastectomy or post-lumpectomy and the field encompassed.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Updates From the 2008 ASCO Annual Meeting featured Generosa Grana, M.D., F.A.C.P. and Carol Kaplan, M.D. answering your questions about the latest research advances on screening, treatment, side effects, and more.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in June 2008.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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