Cancer Therapies and the Heart

Cancer Therapies and the Heart

Medications and cancer therapies may have short and long-term effects on the heart. Some cancer survivors are at risk of developing heart problems as a result of their cancer treatment. Cancer is treated with one or more of the following: chemotherapy, immune therapy, surgery, radiation and HER 2 targeted therapies.

Learn more about different cancer therapies and their impact on the heart:

  • Chemotherapy
    Chemotherapy drugs can have an impact on your heart. Anthracyclines are one class of chemotherapy medications that can damage the cell structures and DNA inside the heart muscle, leading to decreased heart function.
  • Immune Therapy 
    The immune system works by recognizing foreign ‘outsider’ cells and boosting the body’s defense system (antibodies) to attack them, preventing damage to the body. Immune responses attack any foreign invader, such as bacteria, viruses, or cancer cells. The immune system can also produce cytokines, which are substances that act as messengers; cytokines tell the body’s cells to attack foreign cells. 
  • Radiation Therapy 
    Radiation therapy is a key component in cancer care to help reduce the risk of recurrence and death. It is used to treat several cancers, including breast, lung, esophagus, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.