MONDAY, Dec. 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Non-breast cancer (non-BC) causes of death represent a considerable proportion of deaths among patients diagnosed with BC, according to a study published online Dec. 16 in Cancer.

Ahmed M. Afifi, M.B.B.Ch., from the Ain Shams University in Cairo, and colleagues calculated standardized mortality ratios for causes of death for 754,270 women with BC in the United States who were diagnosed during 2000 through 2015.

The researchers found that during the follow-up period, 24.3 percent of the included patients died. Within one to five years after diagnosis, the greatest proportion of deaths (46.2 percent) occurred. Most deaths occurred from BC or other cancers; as more years passed after diagnosis, the number of BC deaths decreased. Within 10 years of diagnosis, the most common noncancer causes of death were heart diseases, followed by cerebrovascular diseases; heart diseases followed by Alzheimer disease were the most common noncancer causes of death more than 10 years after diagnosis. Compared with the general population, patients had a statistically significant higher risk for death from chronic liver diseases within five to 10 years after diagnosis (standardized mortality ratio, 1.23) and significantly higher risks for death from Alzheimer disease and from diseases of the heart more than 10 years after diagnosis (standardized mortality ratios, 1.21 and 1.06, respectively).

“It is crucial to address deaths from non-BC causes when counselling patients about prognosis and survivorship,” the authors write.

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