Anthracycline cardiotoxicity in childhood

Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2008 Jun;25(4):261-81. doi: 10.1080/08880010802016649.


Over the last 40 years, a significant advance has been made in the treatment of childhood and adult cancers. However, the increase of the survival rate points out medium- and long-term adverse effects that constitute a serious limitation for the quality of life in adults survived from a childhood cancer. Cardiovascular disease is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in adults treated with chemo- and radiotherapy for childhood cancers. Although some antitumor treatments are potentially cardiotoxic, anthracycline therapy and radiotherapy are mostly responsible for long-term cardiac damage. Anthracycline toxicity is generally limited to the myocardium, while radiation can cause injury to all components of the heart. The purpose of this review is to discuss the mechanisms of action of anthracyclines, their cardiotoxicity, the feasibility of screening, and the prevention of cardiac damage after treatment in childhood.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthracyclines / adverse effects*
  • Anthracyclines / chemistry
  • Anthracyclines / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Child
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • Heart / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors


  • Anthracyclines
  • Antineoplastic Agents