Study: Heart Issues with Herceptin® for Breast Cancer

A closer look at the cardiovascular effects of cancer treatments

A recent study shows that a common breast cancer drug may have a greater chance of causing heart issues for older women than previously believed. Herceptin® is known to help breast cancer patients live cancer-free. It also is known to affect the heart’s ability to pump blood, which increases the risk of heart failure.

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Cardiomyopathy, or enlargement or thickening of the heart muscle, is another condition it can cause. Now, a study of women 67 and older found that the risk may be higher than previously known.

About the study

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Cardio-Oncology Online Tool and Risk-Assessment

To help cancer patients understand the signs and symptoms to look out for and decide whether they should be seen by a cardiologist, Cleveland Clinic has developed an online assessment tool.

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The researchers followed more than 45,000 women with early-stage breast cancer for three years who were on a variety of regimens. They found that the rates of heart failure and cardiomyopathy were higher for those getting Herceptin® and chemotherapy drugs (anthracyclines) either together or separately, than those who did not receive chemotherapy.

The study was funded by the American Heart Association in collaboration with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The report was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Expert opinion and advice

“This study is very important. Not only does it prove that cardio-toxicity is a real problem, it proves that it is an even bigger problem in the older population,” says Juan Carlos Plana, MD, co-director of Cleveland Clinic’s Cardio-Oncology Center. “If you are a breast cancer patient, monitoring is key and you need to be monitored with the latest technology. We can offer this at Cleveland Clinic’s Cardio-Oncology Center.”

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Learn more about Cardio-Oncology at Cleveland Clinic