Cardiovascular Complications of Systemic Therapy in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

J Clin Med. 2020 Apr 27;9(5):1268. doi: 10.3390/jcm9051268.


Cardiovascular diseases may determine therapy outcomes of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The evidence for how iatrogenic cardiovascular complications contribute to ceasing anticancer treatment, decreasing the quality of life or even premature death, is unclear. Older patients and smokers are at risk of atherosclerosis and arterial thromboembolic events (TE), such as myocardial infarction or stroke. Venous TE can be observed in up to 15% of NSCLC patients, but the risk increases three to five times in ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase)-rearranged NSCLC. ALK inhibitors are associated with electrophysiological disorders. Cytotoxic agents and anti-VEGF inhibitors mainly cause vascular complications, including venous or arterial TE. Cardiac dysfunction and arrhythmias seem to be less frequent. Chemotherapy is often administered in two-drug regimens. Clinical events can be triggered by different mechanisms. Among epidermal growth factor inhibitors, erlotinib and gefitinib can lead to coronary artery events; however, afatinib and osimertinib can be associated with the development of heart failure. During anti-PD1/anti-PDL1 therapy, myocarditis is possible, which must be differentiated from acute coronary syndrome and heart failure. Awareness of all possible cardiovascular complications in NSCLC encourages vigilance in early diagnostics and treatment.

Keywords: NSCLC; acute coronary syndrome; cardio-oncology; cardiotoxicity; chemotherapy; heart failure; myocarditis; thromboembolic events.

Publication types

  • Review