News | October 14, 2011

ASE Study Shows Echocardiography Benefits for Cancer Patients

October 14, 2011 — The American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) is preparing a guideline document on using strain echocardiography to evaluate cancer patients for early signs of cardiac toxicity due to their medical treatments. The group has also funded a research study to enhance identification of patients who are at risk.

The September 2011 death of 51-year-old Kara Kennedy of a heart attack brought the link between cancer treatments and cardiovascular damage into the spotlight for both patients and their physicians. Kennedy, the only daughter of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, was reportedly in remission after having been treated for lung cancer in 2002.

While the direct relationship between her cancer treatment and her death remain unclear, one theory links damage to her heart from her chemo treatments. With this tragedy, physician awareness of the link between specific cancer therapies and heart complications has renewed interest.

In the past, when cancer treatments were not very effective and cancer was usually fatal, little attention was paid to treatment complications. With the advent of more successful cancer therapies that have raised survival rates, concerns about their long-term effects have now become paramount.

“There are 2.2 million survivors of breast cancer in the U.S. alone,” said Juan Carlos Plana, M.D., co-director of cardio-oncology, Cleveland Clinic, “and heart disease, not cancer, is the biggest risk they face.”

When a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, she (or he) is tested for the HER2 mutation, an aggressive form of cancer that affects 20-25 percent of breast cancer patients; it is typically treated with Doxorubicin, followed by Herceptin.

Unfortunately, as many as one third of patients receiving these two drugs will develop cardiotoxicity, and some will progress to full-blown heart failure. This means they could potentially need mechanical devices or heart transplants in order to survive. 

The advent of strain echocardiography for early identification of cardiac problems is great news for those suffering from many forms of cancer. “The goal is not to stop cancer therapy, but to identify cardiotoxicity early and to protect the heart with medications so heart failure does not become a problem and the cancer treatment can be continued,” Plana explained. “Currently, 17 percent of patients receiving treatment for the most aggressive form of breast cancer have to stop therapy due to heart issues. The sensitivity of strain echo allows early detection so oncologists can treat their patients without fear of the downstream effects of the therapies.”

Plana, who is an ASE fellow and served as medical director of cardiac imaging at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, now heads a newly-formed cardio-oncology center at the Cleveland Clinic; every patient slated for a cancer therapy with toxicity potential receives an intensive left-ventricular mechanics protocol, which includes both 3-D echocardiography with contrast and strain imaging.

To highlight screening benefits, ASE has collaborated with the European Association of Echocardiography (EAE) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in a guideline writing group, led by Plana. A previous paper entitled “Early Detection and Prediction of Cardiotoxicity in Chemotherapy-Treated Patients,” has already outlined exciting progress in this area. ASE expects its new guideline to be available in 2012.

The ASE Education and Research Foundation has also funded a Career Development Award on the use of strain and 3-D echocardiography; the goal is to identify patients at high risk for heart complications even before they start chemotherapy. The lead researcher, ASE member Timothy Tan, MBBS, Ph.D., clinical and research fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, hopes the research “will increase the understanding of heart failure associated with cancer treatment, potentially helping to decrease its morbidity and mortality.”

For more information: www.asecho.org

Related Content

AHRA and Canon Medical Systems Announce 2017 Putting Patients First Grant Winners
News | Patient Engagement | February 14, 2018
The Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) and Canon Medical Systems recently announced the tenth annual...
Patients Lack Information About Imaging Exams
News | Patient Engagement | February 14, 2018
Patients and their caregivers desire information about upcoming imaging examinations, but many are not getting it,...
Digisonics Customers Expand OB Ultrasound Reporting Systems for Improved Workflow Efficiency
News | Ultrasound Imaging | February 06, 2018
February 6, 2018 – Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore., University of Utah Medical Center in Salt
PSMA PET-CT Clearly Differentiates Prostate Cancer from Benign Tissue

68Ga-PSMA PET/CT images showing multifocal PCA in peripheral zone with GS of 5 1 5 5 10. (A and C) Axial PET images. (B and D) Fused PET/CT images. SUVmax of lesion in B was 84.3 and that of lesion in D was 5.7. IRS was 3, and 80% of cells were stained. Credit: Senior author V Prasad, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

News | PET-CT | February 05, 2018
February 5, 2018 — Using nuclear medicine...
Microbubbles Make Breast Cancer More Susceptible to Radiation Therapy
News | Women's Health | February 01, 2018
February 1, 2018 – Injecting breast cancer with oxygen-filled microbubbles makes tumors three-times more sensitive to
Small-Cell Lung Cancer Patients Face Barriers to Standard-of-Care Treatment
News | Lung Cancer | January 29, 2018
Despite decades of clinical research establishing chemotherapy with thoracic radiation as the standard-of-care for the...
ASE Opens Enrollment for ImageGuideEcho Registry
News | Cardiovascular Ultrasound | January 29, 2018
January 29, 2018 — The American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) announced that ImageGuideEcho, a module under the I
Advaxis Immunotherapy Offers Potential Combo Treatment for Anal Cancer
News | Radiation Therapy | January 26, 2018
January 26, 2018 — Advaxis Inc.
Overlay Init