Research underway at the University of Alberta and other centres should shed some light on who gets heart disease as a result of chemotherapy, with a goal of treating risk factors for heart disease earlier and more aggressively. The clinical trial, supervised by Dr. Ian Paterson, an assistant professor of cardiology in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta and Edith Pituskin, a registered nurse and PhD candidate in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, is known as MANTICORE.
The research, funded in part by the Alberta Cancer Foundation, is groundbreaking and arises in response to the fact that new treatments have happily created a huge pool of cancer survivors. Unhappily, it has left some of these women with damaged hearts. One treatment for hormone-sensitive breast cancer, called Herceptin, improves outcomes for many patients.
“Unfortunately it can also damage the heart in up to 20 per cent of women taking this drug,” said Paterson in a press release. “We’re hoping we can prevent heart disease, not only during cancer treatment itself, but also after the cancer treatment is done.”
Researchers will screen the women for risk factors associated with heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol and treat them for these conditions immediately. The researchers are actively recruiting patients for the trial.