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New Field of 'Cardio-oncology' Suggested

Heart, cancer specialists should collaborate to protect chemo patients, researchers say

THURSDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Certain types of chemotherapy can cause heart problems, and cardiologists and oncologists need to work together to protect patients, especially those at greatest risk, say Italian researchers who reviewed available scientific literature.

Because many nations have aging populations, a growing number of people have both cancer and cardiovascular disease, the researchers said.

The review summarized the potential toxic effects of chemotherapeutic and chemopreventive drugs on the cardiovascular system. The researchers also stressed the importance of evaluating people's cardiovascular risk before they have chemotherapy, called for new chemotherapy guidelines that include collateral effects on the cardiovascular system and recommended creation of a new interdisciplinary field of "cardio-oncology."

Led by Adriana Albini, chief of oncology research at the Clinical and Research Institute Multimedica in Milan, the researchers said that using imaging techniques and biomarkers to identify high-risk patients would play an important role in reducing cardiovascular harm and death.

They also called for assessment of cardiotoxicity in phase 1 trials of new chemotherapy drugs that pose less heart risk.

"Today's oncologists must be fully aware of cardiovascular risks to avoid or prevent adverse cardiovascular effects, and cardiologists must now be ready to assist oncologists by performing evaluations relevant to the choice of therapy," the authors of the review wrote.

The article was published online Dec. 10 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about chemotherapy side effects.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, Dec. 10, 2009

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