Mayo Clinic warns on
Cancer treatment and the heart
If you have had cancer, their advice is to keep a check on your heart. Mayo Clinic warns that Cancer treatments can have a significant impact on your heart.
This can range from weakening of the heart muscle to heart attacks or rhythm problems. Some chemotherapy drugs have also been linked to high blood pressure. And, as I found, even Hormonal Drugs can affect it.
Fortunately, heart problems today are rare and not seen with every chemotherapy drug. As new treatments are developed, short term problems and long term side effects including heart problems are being closely studied.
IF you should have problems, and live in Britain, The Royal Brompton Hospital has appointed a special Consultant, Dr. Alexaander Lyon, whose speciality is looking into and treating heart conditions associated with long term cancer drug side effects.
Of the current anti-cancer treatments, the most commonly monitored drugs are a class known as anthracyclines (doxorubicin, daunorubicin, others), as well as newer medications such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), which may cause weakening of the heart muscle.
If your doctor is considering using a chemotherapy drug that may affect your heart, you may need heart function testing before beginning treatment.What to look out for
During treatment, you may need periodic heart monitoring tests. If you have a pre-existing heart condition, such as cardiomyopathy, your doctor may suggest a different type of chemotherapy.
If you experience significant problems such as unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain or irregular heartbeats during or after treatment, report your symptoms immediately to your health care team.
Radiation treatment can also come with risks. If the area of your body receiving radiation includes your chest (for example for breast cancer or lymphoma), you may have an increased risk of cardiomyopathy, valvular heart disease and heart attack.
The combination of radiation and chemotherapy together can generate a considerably higher risk of heart damage. However, your doctor can take steps to reduce these risks as much as possible.
It’s possible that you aren’t monitored – as I discovered – so if you have concerns ask advice of your GP, or call one of the Helplines for advice, such as CRUK, Macmillan, British Heart Foundation, etc.
Incidentally, the Mayo Clinic now offers a programme to address heart problems associated with cancer treatment calledclinic.org cardio-oncology. The cardio-oncology clinic is available to evaluate people prior to cancer treatment and for others who have experienced side effects due their treatment.