Surviving a stroke can “double” the risk of cancer in the following 18 months, according to new research.
The scientists looked a group of 381 patients who had suffered a stroke. In those who did go on to develop cancer, two-thirds of cases had already metastasised by the time it was discovered.
Metastasis is the process of cancer spreading to other sites in the body.
Likewise, the number of people in the group diagnosed with cancer was significantly higher than the general population – 7.6 per cent to 4.5 per cent.
Doctors said that, although they don’t know the exact link between stroke and cancer, they suspect that some strokes are triggered by underlying cancers that have not yet prompted any symptoms.
“Stroke survivors should be followed clinically for the development of cancer in the 18 months after the diagnosis of stroke,” said Dr Jacobo Rogado, who led the research.
“We found 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.”