At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 92
The heart of
A new branch of medicine - cardio-oncology - aims to prevent
today's cancer survivor becoming tomorrow's heart patient
ancer medicine has advanced
phenomenally over the last
few years, meaning that the
majority of people will survive
their initial cancer diagnosis. However,
this success has come at a price. The
cancers and their treatments may
actually harm the cardiovascular system
in a proportion of patients. This isn't just
a side effect of the acute toxic effect of
cancer-treating drugs; some therapies,
including radiotherapy, may produce
changes in the heart and circulation that
take many years to become apparent.
New cancer therapies and complex
combination treatments are being
developed and vigilance is needed to
ensure rare, but potentially serious,
heart problems are identified quickly
and treated. Close cooperation between
different medical specialists is vital.
Are you 'fighting fit'?
UCH aspires to become
one of Europe's major
Cardio-oncology has recently emerged
as a sub-specialty of cardiology, in
order to address some of these issues.
Those patients who might be at risk of
toxicities need to be identified, and the
earlier the better. If medical care is
optimised, prior to embarking on cancer
therapy, the risk of cancer treatment
being interrupted is reduced. So being
'fighting fit' helps immeasurably.
Heart complications arising during
cancer therapy benefit from the
intervention of an expert cardiologist
to direct the patient's care. Where
possible, the patient then resumes
cancer treatment, giving the best
possibility of a successful outcome.
Dr Walker, one such cardiologist,
says: 'I'm fortunate to work at University
College Hospital London (UCH), which
aspires to become one of Europe's
major cancer-treatment centres.
It's soon to have one of the few
proton beam facilities in the UK.
I set up a dedicated cardio-oncology