Some cancer drugs, such as anthracyclines (e.g., doxorubicin) and trastuzumab, can cause damage to the heart. These medications may lead to heart problems, including heart failure or cardiomyopathy, particularly at high doses or with prolonged use.
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Certain cancer drugs have the potential to cause damage to the heart, particularly when used at high doses or for extended periods. Two notable examples of these drugs are anthracyclines, such as doxorubicin, and trastuzumab. It is crucial for cancer patients receiving these medications to be aware of the potential risks and for healthcare providers to closely monitor their heart health during treatment.
Anthracyclines are a class of chemotherapy drugs that are commonly used to treat a variety of cancers, including breast cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma. These drugs work by interfering with the DNA of cancer cells, thereby preventing their ability to grow and divide. However, they can also have detrimental effects on the heart. Long-term use or high doses of anthracyclines can lead to heart problems, such as heart failure or cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle becomes weakened and enlarged.
Trastuzumab, also known by the brand name Herceptin, is a targeted therapy commonly used to treat breast cancer and stomach cancer. It works by specifically targeting cancer cells that overexpress the HER2 protein. However, similar to anthracyclines, trastuzumab can sometimes lead to heart complications, including heart failure. The risk of heart damage is higher when trastuzumab is used in combination with anthracyclines.
It is important to note that not all cancer drugs have the same effect on the heart. The risk of heart damage can vary depending on the type and dosage of the drug used, as well as individual patient factors. Therefore, healthcare providers carefully assess the potential risks and benefits before prescribing these medications.
Quote: “While lifesaving, some cancer treatments can have long-term cardiac effects. It is important for both patients and healthcare providers to be aware of the potential heart-related side effects and to collaborate in managing and preventing them.” – American Heart Association
Interesting facts on the topic:
- Anthracyclines, including doxorubicin, have been widely used in cancer treatment for several decades due to their effectiveness against a range of cancers.
- Cardiotoxicity, or heart damage, is a well-known and documented side effect of anthracycline chemotherapy.
- Trastuzumab revolutionized the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer and has significantly improved survival rates for patients with this type of cancer.
- The risk of developing heart complications due to cancer drugs can be influenced by factors such as age, pre-existing heart conditions, cumulative doses of medication, and concurrent radiation therapy.
- Researchers are actively exploring ways to mitigate the cardiotoxic effects of cancer drugs, including the use of cardioprotective agents and advanced imaging techniques to monitor heart health during treatment.
|Cancer Drug||Potential Heart Damage|
|Anthracyclines||Heart failure, Cardiomyopathy|
|Doxorubicin||Heart failure, Cardiomyopathy|
Note: This table showcases the potential heart damage associated with anthracyclines (including doxorubicin), trastuzumab (including Herceptin), along with their known side effects of heart failure and cardiomyopathy. It is important to consult a healthcare provider for comprehensive information about cancer drugs and their potential effects on the heart.
Watch related video
A recent study conducted by UCL researchers has discovered specific proteins in the blood that are associated with an elevated risk of developing heart diseases, such as heart failure, which can also be affected by cancer drugs. These findings provide insights into how cancer treatments can have harmful effects on the heart and may aid in identifying individuals who are more susceptible to these risks. The research has the potential to pave the way for the development of new drugs that can efficiently reduce tumor size without causing adverse effects on patients. Additionally, it reveals potential targets for the treatment of heart diseases.
There are alternative points of view
Chemotherapy drugs that can cause heart damage include: anthracycline drugs such as doxorubicin (Adriamycin), daunorubicin (Cerubidine, daunomycin) and epirubicin (Pharmorubicin) cisplatin. carboplatin (Paraplatin, Paraplatin AQ)
Cancer drugs that have been reported to cause abnormalities in heart rate or rhythm in more than 10% of patients include:
- Arsenic trioxide (Trisenox ®)
- Daunorubicin (Cerubidine ®)
- Denileukin diftitox (Ontak ®)
Certain cancer treatments may cause cardiotoxicity, including:
- Anthracyclines, such as doxorubicin (Adriamycin®), chemotherapy medications often used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, breast cancer, sarcoma or multiple myeloma.
Radiation therapy can cause heart attack, heart failure, and arrhythmias. Traditional and novel chemotherapy agents can damage the heart or peripheral blood vessels, or cause problems with clotting or blood lipids.
Certain cancer treatments can damage the heart and the cardiovascular system. These side effects, including high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, and heart failure, can be caused or exacerbated by chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as well as by newer forms of cancer treatment, such as targeted therapies and immunotherapies.