The Cardio-Oncology Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital is designed to help address the cardio-toxic side effects of chemotherapy treatment, as well as the confounding problem of co-existing cardiac disease and cancer. The program also provides pre-surgical and pre-treatment cardiac evaluation for patients with cancer.
The program began in response to emerging data, which indicates that newly developed drugs for cancer treatment are having unanticipated side effects. Drugs such as Herceptin, which is very effective in the treatment of breast cancer, can have cardio-toxic side effects that are just beginning to be understood and researched.
The difficulty when dealing with cardio-toxic side effects, such as fatigue and shortness of breath, is that they can often mask themselves as normal effects from the cancer treatment itself. For patients with a pre-existing heart dysfunction, our team will make decisions on how to monitor these patients, and optimize cancer treatment to mitigate these side effects.
If a patient is found to have cardio-toxicities during treatment with chemotherapy, our team will work together with the oncologist and the patient to decide on the best course of action. In some cases, collaboration with the oncologist will need to take place in order to change the chemotherapy to something that's less cardio-toxic. The goal of this program is to help patients through their treatment so they have the best chance to be cured of their cancer.