Review Article

Surviving Cancer without a Broken Heart

Oren Caspi and Doron Aronson


Chemotherapy-associated myocardial toxicity is increasingly recognized with the expanding armamentari¬um of novel chemotherapeutic agents. The onset of cardiotoxicity during cancer therapy represents a major concern and often involves clinical uncertainties and complex therapeutic decisions, reflecting a compro¬mise between potential benefits and harm. Furthermore, the improved cancer survival has led to cardio¬vascular complications becoming clinically relevant, potentially contributing to premature morbidity and mortality among cancer survivors. Specific higher-risk populations of cancer patients can benefit from pre¬vention and screening measures during the course of cancer therapies. The pathobiology of chemotherapy-induced myocardial dysfunction is complex, and the individual patient risk for heart failure entails a multifactorial interaction between the selected chemotherapeutic regimen, traditional cardiovascular risk factors, and individual susceptibility. Treatment with several specific chemotherapeutic agents, including anthracyclines, proteasome inhibitors, epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors, vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors, and immune checkpoint inhibitors imparts increased risk for cardiotoxicity that results from specific therapy-related mechanisms. We review the pathophysiology, risk factors, and imaging considerations as well as patient surveillance, prevention, and treatment approaches to mitigate cardiotox¬icity prior, during, and after chemotherapy. The complexity of decision-making in these patients requires viable discussion and partnership between cardiologists and oncologists aiming together to eradicate cancer while preventing cardiotoxic sequelae.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2019;10(2):e0012