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Women who screen positive for breast cancer through a lab test should be cautious about using two chemotherapy drugs. Findings published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute indicate that these treatments may contribute to heart problems.
After examining the medical history of 12,500 invasive breast cancer patients, the researchers determined that women taking the chemotherapy drugs anthracycline or trastuzumab had a substantially higher chance of experiencing heart failure or cardiomyopathy. The risk was even greater for women taking both medications.
"These drugs are toxic. They kill cancer cells, and sometimes kill other cells in the body, too. [But they] are still important for women with breast cancer to use, because we know they improve survival. As with any drug, people need to be aware of the risks, too," said lead author Erin Aiello Bowles of the Group Health Research Institute.
The American Cancer Association (ACA) says that a lab test for cancer markers can detect the presence of cancer, and gauge whether or not a cancer drug treatment is working.
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