The Cardio-oncology Program: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Care of Cancer Patients With Cardiovascular Disease

Sarah Parent, Edith Pituskin, D Ian Paterson
Canadian Journal of Cardiology 2016, 32 (7): 847-51
Improved cancer survivorship has resulted in a growing number of Canadians affected by cancer and cardiovascular disease. As a consequence, cardio-oncology programs are rapidly emerging to treat cancer patients with de novo and preexisting cardiovascular disease. The primary goal of a cardio-oncology program is to preserve cardiovascular health to allow the timely delivery of cancer therapy and achieve disease-free remission. Multidisciplinary programs in oncology and cardiology have been associated with enhanced patient well-being and improved clinical outcomes. Because of the complex needs of these multisystem patients, a similar model of care is gaining acceptance. The optimal composition of the cardio-oncology team will typically involve support from cardiology, oncology, and nursing. Depending on the clinical scenario, additional consultation from dietetics, pharmacy, and social services might be required. Timely access to consultation and testing is another prerequisite for cardio-oncology programs because delays in treating cardiac complications and nonadherence to prescribed cancer therapy are each associated with poor outcomes. Recommended reasons for referral to cardio-oncology programs include primary prevention for those at high risk for cardiotoxicity and the secondary treatment of new or worsening cardiovascular disease in cancer patients and survivors. Management is multifaceted and can involve lifestyle education, pharmacotherapy, enhanced cardiovascular surveillance, and support services, such as exercise training. The lack of evidence to guide clinical decisions and recommendations in cardio-oncology is a major challenge and opportunity for health care professionals. Large multicentre prospective registries are needed to adequately power risk model calculations and generate hypotheses for novel interventions.


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