Chemotherapy may affect heart function for some breast cancer patients

17 Jul 2014

Breast cancer patients who are positive for the HER-2 gene may have higher risk of heart damage during chemotherapy, according to a recently published study.

CareAcross-Image of a heart

Patients with the HER-2 gene are often treated with trastuzumab or lapatinib, which interfere with its cancer-causing signals.

However, researchers at the University of Louisville, Kentucky and Kentucky One Health noted that some patients' hearts seemed to be weakening under treatment.

Chemotherapy may affect heart function in some patients

"Breast cancer patients treated with either trastuzumab or lapatanib may have an increase in stress hormones (catecholamines), a decrease in protective growth factor (neuregulin), and an increase in blood pressure," says lead author Dr Carrie Geisberg Lenneman. "This may contribute to why certain patients have a decline in heart function during chemotherapy treatment."

Cardio-oncology is a relatively new field of research, emerging as scientists and doctors understand the connections between cancer treatment and the heart.

Clinical trials necessary to examine possible protective measures

"We hope that physicians will consider treating hypertension that may arise in breast cancer patients," Dr Lenneman says, suggesting that existing treatments such as beta-blockers may mitigate the damage. "Hopefully, this study will lead to larger clinical trials examining the role of beta-blockers as cardioprotective therapy in the HER2-positive treated patients."

 

Source: Science Daily

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