NCPD Article

Radiation-Induced Carotid Artery Stenosis: What Nurses Need to Know

Ellen Mullen

carotid artery stenosis, survivorship, cancer survivors, radiation therapy
CJON 2023, 27(2), 173-180. DOI: 10.1188/23.CJON.173-180

Background: Radiation therapy (RT) to the neck is used to treat malignancies such as cancers of the head and neck and lymphomas. Although RT improves survival rates and health outcomes in patients with cancer, it can contribute to late effects, including radiation-induced carotid artery stenosis (RI-CAS). Comprehensive cancer survivorship care includes detection, surveillance, and management of RI-CAS.

Objectives: This article provides an overview of the incidence, risk factors, detection, surveillance, and management of RI-CAS in cancer survivors.

Methods: A literature search was conducted using PubMed®, Embase®, and Web of Science for articles published from January 2008 through June 2022. Search terms included carotid stenosis, radiation therapy, and cancer survivors. This updated review includes content from older references, which serve as a literature-based foundation for the clinical care of cancer survivors at risk for or diagnosed with RI-CAS.

Findings: CAS is a long-term sequela of RT to the neck and can lead to serious complications. As part of a cancer survivorship plan of care, nurses monitor patients for RI-CAS so that survival rates and patients’ quality of life improve.

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