Skip to content

Exploring Associations Between Heart Disease and Cancer Risk

In This Article

  • Cancer risk is nearly seven-fold in patients with a heart event such as myocardial infarction or heart failure
  • In an interview, Emily Lau, MD, cardiology fellow, explained how frontline diagnosis of comorbid patients can be improved to understand cancer risk

Recent study findings show that cancer risk is nearly seven-fold in patients with a heart event such as myocardial infarction or heart failure. While this is useful in understanding cancer risks, there is still no consensus on the mechanism of the association.

In an interview with MD MagazineEmily Lau, MD, fellow in the Division of Cardiology at the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center of Massachusetts General Hospital, said that anti-inflammatory therapy has lead to a reduction in cardiovascular events in some studies. In a study of the monoclonal antibody canakinumab, investigators found that rates of cardiovascular events and lung cancer were both decreased.

Dr. Lau and colleagues studied a cohort of patients from the Framingham Heart Study, looking into how inflammation-targeting therapies may benefit comorbid patients and how frontline diagnosis of heart events can be improved to reduce cancer risk. She said that their study suggested that patients with high atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk should not only be talking to their cardiologist and primary care physician but also to their oncologist about their risk.

While the link between heart events and cancer risk is still unclear, Dr. Lau believes that the field is moving towards research on the connection.

Learn more about the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center

Refer a patient to the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center

Related topics


A tricuspid valve replacement and tricuspid valve repair–both involving catheter-based systems designed specifically for patients with tricuspid valve disease–have been successfully performed at Mass General.


In cancer patients with myocarditis associated with immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, a higher initial dose of corticosteroid and earlier initiation were associated with improved cardiac outcomes.