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Cardio-Oncology: Healthier hearts during and after cancer

Cancer survival rates have improved due to better treatment options. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 14.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S., with that number expected to grow to 20 million by 2020.

Addressing a growing problem

Problem: Some cancer treatments may cause lasting heart damage – especially for patients with pre-existing heart conditions.

“We see a large number of patients with cancer, many of whom have established heart disease, are at risk for heart disease or will be exposed to treatments that may cause heart damage,” said Dr. Barry Clemson, heart failure medical director, OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute. “These patients require careful evaluation and surveillance.”

Solution: OSF Cardiovascular Institute established the Cardio-Oncology Program – one of only a handful of such programs in the country. The program helps prevent, monitor and treat cardiovascular disease in cancer patients during and after treatment to ensure long-term health.

“Depending on the type of cancer therapy a patient is undergoing, they can experience multiple heart complications such as arrhythmias, valvular heart disease or heart failure,” said Dr. Kavitha Kalvakuri, cardiologist, OSF Cardiovascular Institute. “Some of these effects may not appear until 15 to 20 years after cancer treatment has stopped.”

Cardio-Oncology: A multidisciplinary team approach

The Cardio-Oncology Program unites experts in radiology, oncology and cardiology to provide optimal heart care.

Services include:

  • Risk assessment prior to cancer treatment
  • Care for patients with cancer who have existing heart disease
  • Monitoring for cardiac complications during cancer therapy
  • Care for patients who have cardiac side effects from traditional cancer therapies
  • Assessment of cardiac risks related to new or changing cancer therapies
  • Assessment of long-term cardiac risk in cancer survivors
  • Evaluation of cardiac tumors

“The goal of the Cardio-Oncology Program is to prevent interruption or discontinued cancer treatment due to cardiac complications from cancer treatment,” said Dr. Clemson.

After referral, the patient meets with a cardiologist for an evaluation, which may include imaging to further define the patient’s cardiovascular condition. The team then develops a treatment plan that varies according to the type of heart condition, underlying conditions and if the patient is currently being treated for cancer.

If you are undergoing cancer treatment or are a cancer survivor, schedule an evaluation with the cardio-oncology team by calling (309) 624-6111.

Last Updated: January 27, 2022

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About Author: David Pruitt

David Pruitt is a writer for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare. He has a bachelor’s of journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and worked as a reporter before joining OSF HealthCare in 2014.

An avid golfer and fisherman, David was born and raised Alton, Illinois, which is where he currently resides with his son, James.

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Categories: Cancer, Heart Health