Oncologists and cardiologists evaluate patients at risk for heart disease or those who have developed cardiotoxicity as a result of cancer treatment.
Our cardio-oncologists focus on preventing, monitoring and treating cardiovascular problems in cancer patients and survivors.
The advances in cancer care in recent decades have increased life expectancy for many survivors. However, the same treatments that have helped many live longer, fuller lives may also increase the risk of developing new heart conditions either during or after cancer treatment. In addition, some people with newly diagnosed cancer may have existing heart problems that need to be managed while undergoing cancer treatment.
What is cardio-oncology?
Cardio-oncology is an emerging specialty where a team of cardiologists (cardiovascular specialists) collaborate with oncologists in providing the most effective cancer treatment while minimizing acute and chronic cardiovascular side effects. Heart disease and cancer are the top two causes of death in the United States, and recent research indicates that the risk of developing heart disease is much higher in cancer patients than in the general population.
Madhulata Reddy, M.D., a cardiologist, and Haythem Ali, M.D., a medical oncologist, answer the questions that breast cancer patients should know about the risk of heart disease.
When do I need to see a cardio-oncologist?
Our cardio-oncologists work closely with specialists in the Henry Ford Cancer Institute to determine if you would benefit from a cardio-oncology consultation. You’re most likely to get referred to our cardio-oncology program if:
- You have an existing heart problem: If you’re already being treated for heart attack, heart failure, heart arrhythmia or have heart-related symptoms, you’re at greater risk of developing serious complications from cancer treatment.
- You will be receiving treatment that could affect your heart: These types of treatments are known as cardiotoxic (cause damage to the heart). This can include certain types of chemotherapy drugs, immunotherapy and radiation therapy.
- You are getting a stem cell or bone marrow transplant: If you have cancer and are preparing to undergo a cell transplant, you may need to see a cardio-oncologist to optimize your heart health prior to the transplant procedure.
- You’re a cancer survivor: Certain treatments, especially radiation therapy, may have long-term effects on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk for conditions such as heart valve problems, clogged arteries, heart failure, heart rhythm issues that require a pacemaker, and stroke.
How do I know if my treatment may be cardiotoxic?
Not all chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapies cause damage to the heart. If you have blood, breast, kidney or lung cancer, to name a few, you may need treatments that have a higher risk for cardiotoxicity. However, your Henry Ford oncologist will discuss this with you and ensure that you understand your specific treatments and any risk you may face for heart damage, before beginning treatment.
Will a heart condition prevent or stop my cancer treatment?
Whether you have an existing heart condition or are at an increased risk for developing one, our team works in every way to ensure you can undergo your cancer treatment with the fewest heart- and vascular-related side effects. Our role is to ensure that you can get the most effective cancer care while minimizing heart damage. Your cancer treatment is always the primary focus, and we work with your oncology team to plan your cardio-oncology visits around your other treatments.
The Henry Ford difference
- A team approach to personalized treatment: We work with other Henry Ford experts in heart failure, electrophysiology, heart surgery, cardiac rehabilitation, medical oncology, radiation oncology, pharmacology and other specialties to ensure your personalized treatment plan is optimized to provide the most effective cancer care, with the least risk to your heart.
- Complete cardiovascular care, for all of your needs: Our cardio-oncology program is part of the Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute, one of the top cardiac centers in the nation. Our internationally renowned team provides advanced care for all heart conditions, everything from heart failure requiring advanced care with left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implants to heart transplants, electrophysiology for heart rhythm issues and treatment for valve conditions with minimally invasive procedures. We also treat other cardiovascular conditions that may result from cancer treatment, such as peripheral artery disease.
- Advanced cancer care: We work closely with the specialists in the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, which offers the latest, most effective cancer therapies available. These experts meet through 14 cancer-specific tumor boards, where they review each case individually and recommend the most effective treatments for your cancer.
- Accurate and advanced testing: To prevent and treat heart problems with cancer treatment, testing with an accurate diagnosis is necessary to ensure the most effective care. We offer a complete range of advanced heart testing, including echocardiograms, nuclear medicine tests, CT, PET, and MRI scans.
- A focus on wellness: Our team focuses not just on treating your cancer, but on giving you the highest quality of life possible. This means we look at all aspects of heart and cancer treatment, including exercise, diet and other lifestyle areas.
- Research: As an academic medical center, our experts in both cardiology and oncology pioneer and study new treatments, as well as ways to minimize the impact of these therapies on your heart and vascular system.