A study has recently warned that stroke survivors are almost doubly at risk of developing cancer. The findings indicated that nearly 45% of cancer diagnoses occurred within the first six months after a stroke diagnosis. “Post-mortem studies have suggested that cancer can develop after a stroke, but the magnitude of this association has not been described,” said author Dr Jacobo Rogado from Hospital de La Princesa in Madrid, Spain.
“We conducted a study that would allow us to establish whether this association actually exists and which factors may predict risk,” Rogado added. Researchers reviewed the medical records of all 914 patients admitted from the emergency room to the stroke unit of Hospital de La Princesa between January 2012 and December 2014.
A total of 381 patients met the inclusion criteria and were followed for 18 months from the diagnosis of stroke. During the 18-month follow-up, 29 (7.6%) of stroke survivors were diagnosed with cancer, most frequently in the colon, lung and prostate.
This was higher than the expected incidence of 17 patients (4.5%), based on statistics for the general population. The average time from stroke onset to cancer diagnosis was six months. Almost two-thirds (62%) of cancer patients were presented with metastatic or locally advanced disease.
Multivariate analysis revealed that patients of older age (>76 years), previous diagnosis of cancer, high levels of fibrinogen (>450 mg/dl) and low levels of haemoglobin (<13 g/dl), were associated with cancer. Rogado stated that the incidence of cancer in stroke survivors was almost twice that of the general population. When cancer was diagnosed, it was usually at an advanced stage and the diagnosis was made within six months after a stroke. This indicates that the cancer was already present when the stroke occurred but there were no symptoms.” The research is scheduled to be presented at the ESMO 2017 Congress in Madrid.