Many of the therapies used to treat breast cancer, such as chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal therapy, can affect patients’ long-term cardiac risk.
Breast cancer survival has improved over the years due to innovative therapies. However, some treatments can cause cardiotoxicity, or damage the heart.
“Pre-existing factors, such as hypertension, diabetes or genetic conditions, affect breast cancer survivors in a similar way to how they affect the general population; however, having undergone certain cancer therapies can put these people at an even greater risk of heart disease, “explains Dr. Diego Sadler, a cardio-oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida.
“Fortunately, the percentage of patients affected by these treatments is relatively small, and today there are sophisticated imaging modalities that allow early detection and treatment of heart disease, resulting from treatment for breast cancer,” added Dr. Sadler.
Similarly, Dr. Thomas Samuel, a breast oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida, argues that “it is particularly important to be aware of the risk of heart disease.” Many of the therapies used, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and therapy hormonal, may affect the patient’s long-term cardiac risk, he said.
“Other medications commonly used for the treatment of breast cancer, such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), may also contribute to cardiovascular problems in the future, so patients should be aware of the risks.”
In addition, for women, radiation therapy in the chest area may increase the risk of heart disease because the treatment is given in the vicinity of the heart.
“Fortunately, today’s radiation therapy techniques are very safe and localized, and are designed to avoid any significant damage to the heart,” said Dr. Samuel.
Cardiotoxicity can occur in several ways, including damage to the heart muscle itself, arteries or heart valves. Although cardiotoxicity can be life-threatening, it can often be effectively managed with minimally invasive medications and treatments.
It is also important to know that some therapies used in the treatment of breast cancer have the potential to cause heart disease many years, even decades, after treatment. For this reason, monitoring that allows detection and treatment in time can offer better cardiovascular results.
Cardio-oncology, a relatively new specialty, focuses on the effect that cancer treatments have on the heart. Cleveland Clinic Florida is one of the leading health care providers in the south of the state of Florida for both cancer care and cardio-cancer care.
The Cleveland Clinic Florida multidisciplinary cardio-oncology team, consisting of oncologists, cardiologists, radiologists, and support specialists, customizes unique treatment plans for each patient. Patients who are at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases are dedicated to caring at all stages of cancer treatment. This allows the safe performance of cancer treatments that can potentially save a life with minimal effects on their cardiovascular health – basically giving patients the best chance of long-term survival.
About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit academic medical center with several specialties that integrates clinical care and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, the clinic was founded in 1921 by four renowned doctors with the vision of providing medical care to the patient based on the principles of cooperation, compassion, and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical advances, including coronary revascularization surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report frequently rates Cleveland Clinic as one of the best hospitals in the nation in its annual survey “The best hospitals in the United States.”
Among the 49,000 Cleveland Clinic employees, there are more than 3,400 doctors and researchers working full-time salary and 14,000 nurses, all of whom are dedicated to 120 medical specialties and subspecialties. The Cleveland Clinic health system includes a 165-acre main campus located near downtown Cleveland, nine community hospitals, more than 150 outpatient clinics in northern Ohio – even 18 full-service health centers for family and three centers