Prospective surveillance and management of cardiac toxicity and health in breast cancer survivors

Cancer. 2012 Apr 15;118(8 Suppl):2270-6. doi: 10.1002/cncr.27462.


Breast cancer is commonly diagnosed in postmenopausal women, the majority of whom express 1 or more cardiovascular disease risk factors. Cardiovascular disease poses a significant competing risk for morbidity and mortality among nonmetastatic breast cancer survivors. Adjuvant systemic therapies may result in late-cardiac toxicity decades after treatment completion. The cumulative incidence of treatment-related cardiotoxic outcomes may be as high as 33% after some adjuvant breast cancer therapies. Breast cancer treatment-induced cardiotoxicity may manifest as cardiomyopathy, coronary ischemia, thromboembolism, arrhythmias and conduction abnormalities, and valvular and pericardial disease. Evidence indicates that preexisting cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension or left ventricular dysfunction may compound the adverse effects of cardiotoxic treatments. There are currently no published clinical practice guidelines that address ongoing cardiac surveillance for cardiotoxicity after breast cancer, and existing guidelines for monitoring and promoting cardiovascular health in older women are often not followed. The multidisciplinary prospective surveillance system proposed elsewhere in this supplement would allow for earlier detection of cardiotoxicity from treatment and may improve monitoring of cardiovascular health in the growing population of breast cancer survivors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • American Cancer Society
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Female
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • Heart / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survivors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Women's Health*


  • Antineoplastic Agents