Mechanisms and clinical course of cardiovascular toxicity of cancer treatment I. Oncology

Semin Oncol. 2019 Dec;46(6):397-402. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2019.10.006. Epub 2019 Nov 11.


The opening session of Second International Colloquium on Cardio-Oncology addressed two areas of vital interest. The first reviewed new thoughts related to established agents. While anthracycline cardiotoxicity has been studied and reviewed extensively, ongoing research attempting to understand why it appears the mechanism(s) of toxicity differs from that of oncologic efficacy continue to evoke comment and intriguing speculation. Better understanding of the role of β-topoisomerase II in toxicity has advanced our understanding of the cascade of events that lead to heart failure. Additionally, the cardioprotective role of dexrazoxane fits well with our new understanding of how β-topoisomerase II works. Beyond the anthracyclines, new insight is providing us insight to better understand the impact on cardiac function seen with other agents including those targeting HER2 and several tyrosine-kinase inhibitors. Unlike the anthracyclines, these agents affect cardiac function in ways that are less direct, and therefore have different characteristics and should be thought of in alternate ways. This new knowledge regarding established agents furthers our understanding of the spectrum of cardiotoxicity and cardiac dysfunction in the cancer patient. The session also addressed cardiovascular toxicities of newer and established agents beyond myocardial dysfunction including effects on the vasculature. These agents cause changes that may be temporary or permanent, and that range from subclinical to life-threatening. The session ended with a discussion of the cardiac effects of immune checkpoint inhibitors. These agents can cause rare and sometimes fatal cardiac inflammation, for which long-term follow up may be required.

Keywords: Angiogenesis inhibitors; Anthracyclines; Cardiovascular toxicity; Immune checkpoint inhibitors; Trastuzumab.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Cardiotoxicity
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / adverse effects
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Poly-ADP-Ribose Binding Proteins


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Poly-ADP-Ribose Binding Proteins
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II
  • TOP2B protein, human