Patients with heart failure have a 75% increased risk of developing cancer, researchers reported in ESC Heart Failure. And cancer incidence rates were even higher for specific disease sites.

For their large retrospective study, researchers analyzed data from 100,124 patients with heart failure and 100,124 patients without heart failure across 1,200 general practices in Germany from January 2000–December 2018. They found that more than 25% of patients with heart failure later developed cancer, compared to just 16% of those without a history of heart disease. The strongest associations were with cancers of the lip, oral cavity, and pharynx (110% increased risk), followed by respiratory organs (91% increased risk), gynecologic organs (86% increased risk), and skin (83% increased risk).

“This was an observational study and the results do not prove that heart failure causes cancer,” the researchers said. “However, the findings do suggest that heart failure patients may benefit from cancer prevention measures.”

Many cancer and heart disease prevention strategies overlap. Oncology nurses can learn more about providing patient education for cancer prevention with ONS Voice.