The Summa Health Cardio-Oncology Program is a collaboration between Summa Health Heart and Vascular Institute and Summa Health Cancer Institute dedicated to screening, monitoring and treating any heart problems before, during or after cancer therapy. People who have undergone breast cancer treatment, particularly older women, are increasingly at risk of long-term cardiac complications, the American Heart Association reports. The development of unexpected heart problems can require interruption and even discontinuation of cancer treatment, causing tumors to grow and decreasing the chances of a cure. Therefore, keeping the heart healthy during cancer treatment is essential to delivering optimal patient care and achieving good outcomes.
Heart and Blood Vessel Complications from Cancer Treatment
Some chemotherapy agents and radiation to the chest, can put cancer patients at an increased risk of having adverse cardiovascular events, particularly within the first five years. The most feared cardiac complication of chemotherapy is heart failure. Anthracyclines (such as adriamycin), but also other agents such as Herceptin (trastuzumab), have been associated with heart failure.
In addition, other complications can develop with the use of a wide range of cancer treatments, including:
- High blood pressure (sunitinib, axitininb, pazopanib treatment for kidney cancer)
- Chest pain from vasospasm (5-FU and bevacizumab treatment for colon cancer)
- Abnormal heart rhythms (interleukin treatment for melanoma and kidney cancer)
- Blood clots (thalidomide treatment for multiple myeloma)
- Damage to structures of the heart (valves, heart arteries, pericardium or outer covering of the heart) from chest radiation for breast and lung cancer and lymphoma
Many of these complications can occur during cancer treatment, while others may only become apparent months or years after completing treatment. Therefore, preventive measures such as monitoring during cancer therapy and follow-up screenings of survivors are key priorities in our program.
Cardio-Oncology services offered by Summa Health cardiologists include:
- Offering advice and guidance to people with a high risk of heart disease or existing heart disease before cancer therapy and evaluating how to prevent, monitor and treat heart conditions.
- Providing treatment for heart conditions, including heart medications if needed.
- Monitoring people with heart disease or at risk of heart disease before and during cancer therapy with regular imaging tests and blood tests to look for signs of heart complications.
- Monitoring and treating heart complications that may develop during cancer therapy as a result of taking certain chemotherapy drugs or receiving radiation therapy to the chest area.
- Screening for heart complications after cancer therapy, especially people who have taken certain chemotherapy drugs or have had radiation therapy to the chest area.
- Treating heart conditions or complications that may develop after cancer therapy due to specific chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy to the chest area.
- Providing lifestyle coaching for people after cancer therapy, such as making lifestyle changes to help reduce the risk of heart disease and maintain health, including eating a heart-healthy diet and exercise.
Cardiac Monitoring Tools
Using the very latest advancements in cardiac surveillance, our experts can initiate treatment much sooner and prevent cardiac dysfunction while continuing cancer treatment.
- 3-D echocardiography with strain technology
- Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- CT assessment of heart artery calcium
- Novel biomarkers
- Functional exercise testing
- Endomyocardial biopsy
Cardiologists work with a multidisciplinary team of doctors trained in cancer conditions (oncologists, hematologists, radiation-oncologists, cancer surgeons and others) to provide comprehensive, coordinated care for people with cancer who may need heart care. Our team is led by: