Many of my friends and family assume that the further away I get from the mini-mantle irradiation I received in 1992, the more I can relax about my developing any complications of that treatment. Not so.
At the cancer survivorship research conference last week, Dr. Iyad Daher, a cardiologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center, gave a useful presentation entitled "Clinical Characteristics of Cardiovascular Health in Cancer Survivors."
I already knew more than your average survivor about the long-term risks of radiation therapy. In 1998, I'd researched late effects of cancer treatments treatment for my chapter on long-term survivorship found in the now-outdated textbook, Principles and Practice of Supportive Oncology.
But I was shocked by the new incidence data Dr. Daher presented from a study in which 40% of people who received radiation therapy to the neck between 1 and 20 years ago had evidence of carotid disease. And the incidence of such changes in the carotid arteries -- changes that increase patients' risk for stroke -- is expected to continue to rise over time.
Was I rattled? Yes. Very.
But only for a while. Tomorrow I'll share how I moved from rattled to relaxed.