Long-known as an effective treatment method for a variety of cancers, radiation therapy (RT) is performed on more than half of all cancer patients. While it effectively eradicates cancer cells and decreases tumor size, it can also cause adverse effects that include scarring or thickening of the arteries, putting patients at an increased risk for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events. As a risk factor, radiation-induced atherosclerosis correlates to a higher likelihood of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in cancer survivors.
New research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests the potential of the cholesterol-lowering drug family of statins to significantly reduce cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risks in patients affected by certain cancers. To date, there have been no studies exploring the effects of statin use on vascular complications in cancer patients post thorax, head, and neck radiotherapy although, the anti-inflammatory properties of statins have been shown to reduce the risk of vascular disease through the reduction of plaque formation.