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Hearts and Cancer

Posted 3/22/2016

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  We all know that cancer and cardio-vascular disease are the two biggest health issues and killers of Americans. To some (small) extent, we can influence our heart health through our habits: diet, exercise, enough sleep, stress management or meditation. The jury is very much out on whether any of these make much of a difference in cancer health, and my own suspicion is not much.

  We also all know that some kinds of cancer treatment are dangerous to our hearts: some radiation that may include part of the heart in the field, some chemotherapy drugs. These treatments may make a difference very quickly (as in, heart function is closely and frequently monitored for women taking herceptin and everyone taking Adriamycin and some other drugs), and some may announce their damage years later.

  As more attention is being paid to survivors' issues, doctors are thinking more about these problems. From Medscape comes this article about a combined cardio-oncology effort:

Cardio-Oncology: An Integrative Approach
Joerg Herrmann, MD; Naveen Pereira, MD

Naveen L Pereira, MD: Hello, everybody. My name is Naveen Pereira. I'm a consultant in cardiovascular diseases at Mayo Clinicin Rochester, MN. I'm very excited to have with me Dr Joerg Herrmann, who is the director of the cardio-oncology clinic at Mayo.
Today, at Mayo Clinic Trending Topics, we will be discussing the new cardio-oncology clinic here. It's an integrative approach to the treatment of cancer patients with cardiovascular risks or injuries.
Joerg, welcome. It's a pleasure to have you here and talk about this exciting topic.
Joerg Herrmann, MD: Thank you, Naveen. Thank you for the invitation.
Why Cardio-Oncology?
Dr Naveen Pereira: Cardiology and cancer—two separate fields. Why are we getting them together?
Dr Joerg Herrmann: In some places, they've always been together. When you think about the primary cancer centers—like MD Anderson, Sloan-Kettering, New York—by nature, the cardiologists employed there had to take care of these patients who happened to have cancer.
Apart from these particular places, what has now occurred is that we have more cancer patients getting treated and more comorbidities. When you look at the map of the United States and you overlay the cancer prevalence and the ischemic heart disease prevalence, there is a certain match.
You have these two together, but then you also have new therapies with new potential for injury or previously unrecognized injury potential. You're really in a situation now where things are getting more complex and where it's getting a little bit more difficult to
just focus on cardiology, or oncology, or hematology, where you really have to see the patient as a whole.

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