Heart failure prevention and monitoring strategies in HER2-positive breast cancer: a narrative review

Lua Jafari, Nausheen Akhter
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 2021 January 22

PURPOSE: Cardiotoxicity from anti-human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) therapy carries a short- and long-term risk of incident heart failure and increased cardiovascular mortality in patients with breast cancer. Interruptions in anti-HER2 therapy due to cardiotoxicity can lead to suboptimal cancer treatment. The purpose of this narrative review is to outline opportunities to optimize cardiovascular care in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer to prevent interruptions in therapy.

METHODS: This case-based review presents the current literature on evidence-based strategies for personalized cardiotoxicity risk assessment, risk mitigation interventions, cardiac function surveillance tools, and management of asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction in breast cancer patients receiving anti-HER2 therapy.

RESULTS: Pretreatment cardiac risk assessment incorporates both treatment-related risk factors and patient-related risk factors for the development of cardiac dysfunction. Prevention and monitoring strategies while on treatment utilize risk factor modification, imaging and biomarker surveillance. Management of asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction due to anti-HER2 therapy is evolving. Permissive cardiotoxicity in asymptomatic patients while starting cardioprotective therapies requires close collaboration between oncology and cardiology, and referral to cardio-oncology if available.

CONCLUSIONS: Patient-centered, multimodal strategies to prevent, detect, and manage cardiotoxicity from anti-HER2 therapy are necessary to improve outcomes in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

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