FRIDAY, Dec. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The risk for a deadly stroke is higher in cancer patients and cancer survivors than the general public, according to a study published online Nov. 15 in Nature Communications.

Nicholas G. Zaorsky, M.D., from Penn State in Hershey, and colleagues used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program (1992 to 2015) to identify cancer patients at highest risk for fatal stroke.

The researchers identified 7,529,481 cancer patients, among whom 80,513 died of fatal stroke. The rate of fatal stroke was 21.64 per 100,000-person years, with a standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for fatal stroke of 2.17. Patients with cancer of the prostate, breast, and colorectum accounted for most of the fatal stroke deaths. The highest SMRs were seen among brain and gastrointestinal cancer patients (>2 to 5). Among younger patients (diagnosed at <40 years of age), most strokes occurred in patients treated for brain tumors and lymphomas, while in patients >40 years, most strokes occurred in patients treated for cancers of the prostate, breast, and colorectum.

“Our findings suggest that patients may benefit from a screening program to help prevent some of these early deaths from stroke, as well as help identify which patients we could target with those preventative efforts,” Zaorsky said in a statement.

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