Increased Risk of Stroke in Cancer Patients and Survivors

Pavankumar Kamat


November 16, 2021


  • A meta-analysis indicates that individuals living with and beyond certain cancers may have an increased risk of stroke.

Why this matters

  • Findings suggest that assessment of cardiovascular risk should be a part of cancer survivorship care, with an emphasis on modifying shared cancer/cardiovascular risk factors.

Study design

  • UK researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 36 studies, identified through a literature search across MEDLINE, CINAHL, and EMBASE databases.

  • Stroke incidences were compared between patients with cancer and those without cancer.

  • Funding: None disclosed.

Key results

  • Patients with pancreatic cancer (HR, 2.85; 95% CI, 2.43-3.34) and lung cancer (HR, 2.33; 95% CI, 1.63-3.34) had an increased risk of ischaemic stroke.

  • The risk of haemorrhagic stroke was higher in patients with (HR; 95% CI):

    • lung cancer (2.14; 1.45-3.15);

    • pancreatic cancer (2.28; 1.43-3.63); and

    • head and neck cancer (1.54; 1.40-1.69).

  • The risk of stroke was highest during the initial 6 months of cancer diagnosis.

  • In the narrative synthesis, the risk of stroke incidence was higher in patients with colorectal cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, thyroid cancer, leukaemia, and myeloma.

  • Patients who received radiotherapy for head and neck cancers and platinum-based chemotherapy had a higher incidence of stroke.


  • Heterogeneity among studies.


Turner M, Murchie P, Derby S, Ong AY, Walji L, McLernon D, Macleod MJ, Adam R. Is stroke incidence increased in survivors of adult cancers? A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Cancer Surviv. 2021 Nov 5 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1007/s11764-021-01122-7. PMID: 34739710  View full text

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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