Cardio-oncology: a multidisciplinary approach for detection, prevention and management of cardiac dysfunction in cancer patients

Kazuko Tajiri, Kazutaka Aonuma, Ikuo Sekine
Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology 2017 August 1, 47 (8): 678-682
Cardiac dysfunction that develops during or after completion of cancer therapy is a growing health concern that should be addressed in a multidisciplinary setting. Cardio-oncology is a new discipline that focuses on screening, monitoring and treating cardiovascular disease during and after cancer treatment. A baseline cardiovascular risk assessment is essential. For high-risk patients, a tailored and detailed plan for cardiovascular management throughout treatment and beyond should also be established. Anthracycline and/or trastuzumab-containing chemotherapy and chest-directed radiation therapy are well known cardiotoxic cancer therapies. Monitoring for the development of subclinical cardiotoxicity is crucial for the prevention of clinical heart failure. Detecting a decreased left ventricular ejection fraction after cancer therapy might be a late finding; therefore, earlier markers of cardiac injury are being actively explored. Abnormal myocardial strain and increased serum cardiac biomarkers (e.g. troponins and natriuretic peptides) are possible candidates for this purpose. An important method for preventing heart failure is the avoidance or minimization of the use of cardiotoxic therapies. Decisions must balance the anti-tumor efficacy of the treatment with its potential cardiotoxicity. If patients develop cardiac dysfunction or heart failure, they should be treated in accordance with established guidelines for heart failure. Cancer survivors who have been exposed to cardiotoxic cancer therapies are at high risk of developing heart failure. The management of cardiovascular risk factors and periodic screening with cardiac imaging and biomarkers should be considered in high-risk survivors.


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