Cardio-Oncology: A Focused Review of Anthracycline-, Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 Inhibitor-, and Radiation-Induced Cardiotoxicity and Management

Jean Domercant, Nichole Polin, Eiman Jahangir
Ochsner Journal 2016, 16 (3): 250-6

BACKGROUND: Cardio-oncology is a collaborative approach between cardiologists and oncologists in the treatment of patients with cancer and heart disease. Radiation and chemotherapy have played a major role in the decreased cancer-related mortality achieved in the past 2 decades. However, anthracycline-, tyrosine kinase-, and radiation-based therapies are each associated with independent cardiovascular (CV) risks, and these risks are cumulative when these therapies are used in combination.

METHODS: We analyzed several published articles, studies, and guidelines to provide a focused review of cardiotoxicity associated with anthracyclines, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 inhibitors, and radiation therapy and its management.

RESULTS: The focus on CV risk among individuals being treated with cardiotoxic agents is important because once the cancer is cured, CV disease becomes the number 1 cause of death among cancer survivors. Cardio-oncology focuses on assessing CV risk prior to starting therapy, optimizing modifiable risk factors, and providing surveillance and treatment for any early signs of cardiotoxicity in patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. A collaborative approach between oncologists and cardiologists is integral to the optimal care of patients with cancer. Although radiation and chemotherapy treatments have evolved with the aim of targeting cancer cells while having minimal effect on the heart, the increased risk of cardiomyopathy in patients receiving these treatments remains significant.

CONCLUSION: Proper screening and treatment of cardiotoxicity are essential for patients with cancer. As cardiac diseases and cancer remain the first and second causes of mortality in developed nations, respectively, cardio-oncology is the answer to this group of individuals who are especially vulnerable to both causes of mortality.

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