Breast cancer radiotherapy and the risk of acute coronary events - insights from a process oriented model

Cristoforo Simonetto*, Jan C Kaiser, Veerle A B van den Bogaard, Johannes A Langendijk, Anne P G Crijns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Acute coronary events (ACEs) are considered the most important side effect of radiotherapy (RT) for breast cancer but underlying mechanisms still have to be identified. Process oriented models mathematically describe the development of disease and provide a link between mechanisms and subsequent risk. Here, this link is exploited to learn about the underlying mechanisms from the observed age-time patterns of ACE risk.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A process oriented model of atherosclerosis and subsequent ACEs was applied to a contemporary breast cancer cohort of 810 patients with measurements of coronary artery calcification. Patients with prior ischemic heart disease were excluded. The process oriented model describes disease development as a series of different stages. Different variants of the model were fitted to the data. In each variant, one stage was assumed to be accelerated in relation to mean heart dose.

RESULTS: During a mean follow up of 9.1 years, 25 ACEs occurred. The model reproduced the prevalence and associated risk of coronary calcifications. Mean heart dose significantly improved the fit only when implemented as affecting a late stage of atherosclerosis on already existing, complicated lesions (achieving p = 0.007). This can be understood by atherosclerosis being a slowly progressing disease. Therefore, an increase of ACEs few years after RT requires advanced atherosclerosis at the time of RT.

CONCLUSION: Risk of ACE increases within few years in patients with advanced atherosclerosis at RT. Therefore, patients should be assessed for cardiovascular risk, and also elderly patients need to be considered for heart sparing techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics
Issue number3
Early online date1-Jul-2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2022

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