Assessing the Cardiac Toxicity of Chemotherapeutic Agents: Role of Echocardiography

Timothy C Tan, Marielle Scherrer-Crosbie
Current Cardiovascular Imaging Reports 2012 December 1, 5 (6): 403-409
Advancements in cancer treatment have resulted in sufficient survival length for patients to experience treatment-related cardiac complications. In particular, chemotherapy-induced cardiac dysfunction significantly impacts morbidity and mortality rates in cancer patients. The presence of cardiotoxicity from chemotherapy has been traditionally assessed using clinical symptoms and decreases in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). However, in this indication, LVEF lacks accuracy as a measure of subclinical cardiotoxicity and its prognostic value is controversial. There is an emphasis to identify subclinical and left ventricular dysfunction early, in order to allow cancer patients and their physicians to make informed decisions about therapeutic options. Echocardiography is a readily available noninvasive tool to measure cardiac function and plays a major role in the diagnosis of cardiotoxicity. This review focuses on the role of echocardiography in detecting cardiotoxicity, and will discuss conventional and more recent echocardiographic approaches for assessing subclinical cardiotoxicity.


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