While chemotherapy and radiation therapy are essential treatments for many cancer patients, they can cause problems for people with heart problems.
Saint Francis Medical Center’s new Cardio-Oncology Clinic provides specialized assessment and care for patients who have or are at risk of developing heart disease. Cancer patients may use the clinic during any stage of their treatment.
“Over the years, researchers have developed better forms of treatment with chemotherapy and radiation,” says Justin D. Floyd, DO, medical oncologist/hematologist at Saint Francis. “However, the side effects of some of those treatments can cause lasting damage to your heart if you are at risk for heart disease. Our clinic helps identify potential problems so we can treat them accordingly.”
Cancer patients who are at risk for heart disease include those who:
- are overweight
- have hypertension (high blood pressure)
- have high cholesterol
- previously received radiation to their chest and neck
- previously received a bone marrow transplant
- have received prolonged anti-estrogen treatment
- have a family history of heart disease
- have diabetes
- have received Doxorubicin, Herceptin® or other cardiotoxic drugs
The clinic is located in the Cape Cardiology Group office in the Medical Center’s Heart Hospital. Patients are screened for cardiovascular disease and undergo any necessary diagnostic tests. They also receive treatment for cardiac tumors, are screened for clinical trials and are evaluated for preventive and new treatment strategies for the heart.
“Chemicals used during cancer treatment can kill heart cells, weaken the heart muscle, cause swelling of the heart and damage blood cells,” says Duc T. Nguyen, DO, interventional cardiologist at Saint Francis. “However, when we catch the problems early, we can start treatment immediately to reduce the damage.”
Saint Francis recently became the only facility in Missouri to be affiliated with Cleveland Clinic’s Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute. This means Saint Francis has access to best practices from the heart hospital that U.S. News and World Report has ranked No. 1 for 19 consecutive years.
“We are constantly collaborating with Cleveland Clinic,” says Nguyen. “Patients who participate in our Cardio-Oncology Clinic can be confident the nation’s top experts are working together to treat them.”
If you are a cancer patient and want to know whether you qualify for the clinic, you can take a free assessment at www.sfmc.net/cardio-oncologyclinic.