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Some women who have learned through lab testing that they have breast cancer may benefit from asking their doctor to also take a look at their cardiovascular health. New research suggests that breast cancer and heart disease may share genetic risk factors.
A team of investigators from Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital examined the cardiovascular effects of two genetic mutations - BRCA1 and BRCA2 - that are known to significantly increase a woman's breast cancer risk.
The study showed that mice bred to possess these genetic mutations were significantly more likely to experience heart failure and to die from the condition if they suffered a heart attack. Furthermore, mice given doxorubicin, a common chemotherapy agent given to breast cancer patients, were even more likely to die from cardiovascular complications.
"What this means is that when a patient has the mutated gene, I now have to think about how much doxorubicin I'm going to give them or whether we should consider an alternate therapy," said Dr. Christine Brezden-Masley, one of the researchers.
The findings suggest that lab testing may be beneficial for women with these genetic mutations before any treatments for breast cancer are recommended.
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