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Haematologica. 1996 Mar-Apr;81(2):132-7.

Cardiac injury as late toxicity of mediastinal radiation therapy for Hodgkin's disease patients.

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Institute of Hematology Seràgnoli, University of Bologna, Italy.



During the last 20 years Hodgkin's disease (HD) has become one of the most curable neoplasms; in fact, more than 75-80% of patients are expected to achieve long-term relapse-free survival with appropriate therapy. However, overall survival has been affected by intercurrent or treatment-induced diseases such as the increased risk of cardiac toxicity in patients who received mediastinal irradiation.


The incidence of cardiac abnormalities after mediastinal radiotherapy was assessed in 102 consecutive HD patients who underwent this treatment from January 1970 to December 1980. Basal investigation procedures included electrocardiogram and echocardiography; myocardial perfusion scintigraphy with 201-thallium and coronary arteriography were performed in selected patients.


Eleven patients (10.8%) presented cardiac abnormalities, which were asymptomatic in three cases. Eight cases of myocardial ischemia and 3 of constrictive pericarditis were observed. The incidence of late cardiotoxic effects was related to total mediastinal dose and to the irradiation technique.


The increasing duration of follow-up shows that as mediastinal irradiation increases so does the risk of late cardiotoxic side effects. For this reason, a proper treatment strategy should reduce these risk factors through new combined modality protocols and routine evaluation of cardiologic follow-up.

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