Protecting the heart is vital in cancer treatment!

Recent studies show that serious cardiovascular problems occur in patients receiving cancer treatment. Cardiology Specialist Assoc. Dr. Ertan Ökmen states that the heart factor should never be forgotten and that onco-cardiology has an important function in treatment.

Ertan Okmen-1Although important developments in cancer and effective drugs applied increase the hopes for the disease, the drugs used in the treatment can cause life-threatening risks by damaging other important organs of the body. Even in a successful cancer treatment, patients can die from other diseases. Stating that especially heart patients should pay attention to the issue of side effects in cancer treatment, Assoc. Dr. Ertan Ökmen draws attention to the fact that heart health should be evaluated while planning cancer treatment in order to increase the success in cancer treatment and reduce the life risk.

Ökmen emphasized the importance of treating patients with heart disease as soon as possible; “Reducing vital events, from the risk of anesthesia during surgical treatment to the side effects of drug therapy and radiation therapy, will help ensure a longer and quality life for the patient,” he says.

Cancer is exhausting the heart…

Stating that chemotherapy drugs taken during cancer treatment can cause heart problems by tiring the heart, Ökmen said, “We call these side effects as cardiotoxicity. Although many cancer types, especially breast, testicular cancers and Hodgkin lymphoma, can be cured at a high rate, especially when detected at an early stage, heart problems that occur due to treatment in some of these patients reduce their long and comfortable life expectancy.

Protecting the heart in cancer patients improves survival

One out of every four patients suffers from heart failure.

Although side effects of cancer treatment such as cardiotoxicity are not seen in every patient, several factors trigger this risk. For example, in a group of drugs that are very successful and frequently used in the treatment of breast cancer, one out of every four patients may develop heart failure. Some factors, such as the type of chemotherapy drugs, dose, mode of administration, and prior radiotherapy, are important in the development of side effects on the heart.

In addition to effects such as heart failure, vascular occlusion, and rhythm disorders, hypertension can also develop or worsen quite frequently due to cancer drugs. The important thing is not to start or stop these drugs, which have made great progress in cancer treatment, because they have side effects on the heart, but to be aware of these side effects and to treat the patient more safely by knowing them.

Those with heart disease should be even more careful…

The second determinant of the risk of developing heart problems due to drugs is patient-related factors such as the patient’s age, existing heart disease, and the presence of cardiovascular disease risk factors. Serious heart problems due to cancer treatment develop at a much higher rate, especially in patients with heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, hypertension, valve diseases, and rhythm disorders.

Assoc. Dr. Ökmen said, “These diseases should be detected during cancer treatment before the treatment starts, and follow-up and treatment plans should be made according to the treatment scheme and the type of heart disease. Heart disease can be aggravated by cancer treatment and can lead to treatment interruptions, up to interruption and sometimes discontinuation of chemotherapy.

As cardiologists and oncologists in cancer treatment, cutting or interrupting the chemotherapy drug, which is of vital importance for the patient, is the last thing to think about and is tried to be avoided as much as possible unless it is very difficult. Sometimes, even though the side effects on the heart are serious, we also have special patient groups where we continue chemotherapy because it is of vital importance for the patient. These patients should be followed and treated very closely in cooperation with the cardiology and oncology departments.

It can be treated with early diagnosis…

While chemotherapy treatment kills cancer cells and gives positive results, its side effects lead to another big problem such as heart failure. Stating the importance of the damage caused by cancer treatment and the heart failure caused by it should be determined and treated beforehand, Assoc. Dr. Ökmen said, “Damage can be treated when detected early, just like in cancer. However, if the diagnosis is made 6 months after the damage develops, heart failure can be irreversible.




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