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Ongoing Study Will Examine Cardiac Toxicity of Breast Cancer Treatment


Patients with breast cancer can still enroll in a clinical trial that is seeking to find the cause behind cardiac toxicity related to anthracycline-based treatment.

Certain breast cancer treatments could lead to heart problems down the line though unanswered questions still remain, according to recent research presented at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

“We see that about a third of women, after treatment ends, are still living with fatigue and reduced exercise capacity. That puts them at a lower quality of life, and they also experience lower ability to perform their activities of daily living,” said Kerryn Reding, an associate professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Washington and member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in an interview with CURE®.

Reding was a member of the research team on a clinical trial called UPBEAT: a prospective cardio-oncology study, an ongoing, prospective analysis with the goal of better understanding the effects of breast cancer treatment on the cardiovascular system.

The research team is working to take cardiac MRIs, hoping that they will offer clues as to what is leading up to treatment-related heart issues. They are also collecting data on fatigue and exercise capacity through a cardiopulmonary exercise task. Assessments are collected before patients receive treatment, and then they are followed up over time.

“This would be for women with stage 1 through 3 breast cancer who are receiving any type of chemotherapy, and it’s focused particularly on anthracyclines, so it’s going to be recruiting women who have any treatment, but also oversampling women with anthracycline-based treatment, as well as radiation,” Reding said.

Participants will be followed up for two years via questionnaires, cardiopulmonary tests and cardiac MRIs, and then for an additional seven years to look at the occurrence of cardiovascular events in the population.

The trial is still expanding across sites in the United States, and Reding said she expects initial results to come out in about four years. More results — and hopefully a better understanding of the issue — will follow after that.

“One of the things that we often stress is that this is a trial that is going to help the field to understand more about the late effects of breast cancer treatments,” Reding said. “While the patients will not be getting back their individual results, they’ll be contributing to that greater scientific understanding so that we can go on to have a better understanding to inform patient care in the future.”

Read more: Popular Heart Medications May Curb Cardiac Toxicity in Patients With Breast Cancer

Surviving Breast Cancer and its Side Effects One Exercise at a Time

A version of this article originally appeared on Oncology Nursing News as, “A Better Understanding of Cardiac Toxicity in Breast Cancer.”

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