HealthWACH: Cancer treatments can be toxic to heart

COLUMBIA (WACH) - Cancer cells grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells, so many anticancer drugs are made to kill growing cells. However, certain normal healthy cells multiply quickly, and chemotherapy can affect these cells also. Damage to normal cells can cause side effects. The fast-growing, normal cells most likely to be affected are blood cells forming in the bone marrow and cells in the digestive tract (stomach, mouth, intestines), reproductive system (sexual organs), and hair follicles. Some anticancer drugs may affect cells of vital organs, like kidney, bladder, lungs, nervous system, and the heart.

Chemotherapy side effects may increase the risk of heart disease, including weakening of the heart muscle and rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias). Some chemotherapy agents with cardiovascular effects include:

â?¢arsenic trioxide (Trisenox)â??Q-T prolongation

â?¢bevacizumab (Avastin)â??Severe hypertension, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, thromboembolism

â?¢cisplatin (Platinol)â??Severe hypertension, ischemia, atrial fibrillation, thromboembolism

â?¢doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and other anthracyclinesâ??Cardiomyopathy, heart failure, cardiac shock

â?¢fluorouracil 5-FU (Adrucil)â??Ischemia


â?¢Interleukin-2â??Atrial fibrillation

â?¢mitomycin (Mutamycin)â??Heart failure

â?¢mitoxantroneâ??Heart failure

â?¢pazopanib (Votrient)â??Severe hypertension

â?¢sorafenibâ??Severe hypertension, heart failure, thromboembolism

â?¢trastuzumab (Herceptin)â??Heart failure

If your doctor suggests using a chemotherapy drug that may affect your heart, you may choose to undergo heart function testing before starting treatment. During treatment, you may need periodic heart monitoring. If you have a pre-existing heart condition, like cardiomyopathy, your doctor may suggest a different type of chemotherapy. Some cancers require radiation. If the area of your body receiving radiation includes your heart, you have an increased risk of cardiomyopathy, heart attack, and coronary artery disease. The combination of chemotherapy and radiation can further increase your risk of heart damage.