New study suggests lung cancer increases stroke risk
A study published recently in the journal Stroke, finds that people with lung cancer are more likely than the general population to suffer a stroke. It also indicates that, compared to ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blood clot blocking blood flow to an area of the brain, people with lung cancer more often experience hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding in an area of the brain.
Conducted in Taiwan, the research looked at more than 150,000 people and found that individuals with lung cancer had a stroke 1.5 times more often than individuals without lung cancer.
It is interesting to note that the increased risk of stroke occurs within one year after a lung cancer diagnosis in men and two years after diagnosis in women. The risk of stroke for women peaked at four to six months after diagnosis and then fell off after two years. For men, the risk reached its greatest height within the first three months after diagnosis and decreased after a year.
Another important note: The researchers did not consider factors such as smoking, alcohol use or dietary habits that can increase the risk of stroke even without tobacco smoking.
“However, it has been seen that most of the cases of lung cancer develop in patients suffering from hypertension, diabetes and pulmonary diseases,” writes Dr. Sunita Khatri. “And these lifestyle diseases can be associated, in turn, to smoking. Almost 90% of lung cancer deaths can be attributed to smoking, according to the American Lung Association, whereas one out of every 18 deaths in the U.S. is due to stroke, as per a report by the American Heart Association.”
Dr. Khatri also suggests that the reasons for the higher risk of stroke risk might be the excessive bleeding and blood clots that can occur when lung cancer is present. She writes that Adenocarcinoma, in particular, is associated with blood clots. Chemotherapy also can have blood clots and bleeding as side effects.
Lynne Eldridge, MD, advises lung cancer patients to take the results of the lung cancer/stroke study as an incentive to be up front with their physician.
“Speaking personally, I know that sometimes when we are going through treatment for cancer, everything else is shifted to the back burner,” she writes. “If you have other risk factors for a stroke, such as high blood pressure, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor, and make sure that your other medical conditions are under good control during your treatment.”
The chances of surviving lung cancer can also be improved significantly through early detection. Research shows that people at high risk for lung cancer can benefit from a screening that involves imaging, such as a low-dose CT scan. Another effective tool, particularly when combined with CT imaging, is EarlyCDT®-Lung, a simple, physician-prescribed blood test, which we discuss further in other posts.
For more information on the clinical validation, as well as other peer review articles highlighting EarlyCDT-Lung, click here to access papers and publications. You may also view the video of Professor John Robertson, pioneer of the technological platform, discuss the data.
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