How can Healthy Survivors get good care -- the first criterion of Healthy Survivorship -- if the data needed to make sound choices in their particular situation is not yet available?
Healthy Survivors work with their physicians to do the best they can with the information available. With this in mind, let's continue looking at the issue of post-irradiation carotid artery disease that we've been discussing in recent posts.
"Does quitting smoking and eating a low-fat healthful diet decrease the risk of stroke in patients who received radiation therapy to the neck as an adult?"
Right now we don't have good studies that answer the question definitively. But Healthy Survivors don't have to wait for study-based answers before taking action on this issue. The cost of these lifestyle measures are low, risk-free, and associated with benefits independent of the history of radiation. So they are worth pursuing, if only for the hope of decreasing the risk of stroke due to damage to carotids caused by past radiation.
What about when talking about measures that carry significant cost? For example, what about when talking about taking medication for a lifetime, undergoing screening ultrasounds of the carotids or bypassing asymptomatic narrowing of carotid arteries?
We'll address this on tomorrow's post.