Feature on MGH Cardio-Oncology Program Highlights Special Issue on Emerging Discipline in Cancer Care

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With more patients surviving cancer comes more effort to ensure that treatment itself does not shorten life, especially by damaging the heart. A special issue of Evidence-Based Oncology that takes a look at the growing specialty of cardio-oncology starts with a feature on the program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The revolution in cancer therapy, including the use of targeted pathway inhibitors, increases the potential for cardiovascular effects.

More people who get cancer are surviving and living longer. The growing recognition that their quality and length of life depend on what happens during cancer treatment has fueled the growth of the specialty of cardio-oncology, which is the subject of the current issue of Evidence-Based Oncology, a publication of The American Journal of Managed Care.

A feature on the Massachusetts General Hospital Cardio-Oncology Program, by program leaders Sanjeev A. Francis, MD, and Marielle Scherrer-Crosbie MD, PhD, discusses its mission of improving not only short-term outcomes but also long-term ones, since cardiovascular problems that result from cancer therapy can show up years, even decades, after treatment.

As the authors explain, the revolution in cancer therapy, including the use of targeted pathway inhibitors, increases potential for cardiovascular effects, since the drugs used may reach identical molecular pathways in cardiovascular cells. Each drug can affect the heart differently, and each patient’s profile is different, too. For the full article, click here.

The challenge will increase as the population ages and more seniors develop cancer. “The interplay and balance between the competing morbidity and mortality of cardiovascular disease and cancer is particularly important in an older population, whose risks are inherently higher,” Drs. Francis and Scherrer-Crosbie write.

The program at MGH, which began in 2011, is a joint initiative between the Heart and Cancer Centers at the hospital and includes the following components:

  •     Risk assessment prior to cancer treatment
  •     Care for cancer patients with existing cardiovascular disease
  •     Monitoring for cardiac complications from cancer therapy
  •     Evaluation of cardiac tumors
  •     Assessment of new chemotherapies.

The hallmark of the MGH program, the authors write, is its multidisciplinary approach and close collaboration among cardiologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, and other specialists. Physical proximity of heart and cancer specialists is key, they write: “Embedding our program within the cancer center … exemplified our patient-centered approach.”

MGH’s approach seeks timely consultations on chemotherapy decisions, protocols to limit the use of echocardiogram for patients who require surveillance of left ventricle ejection fraction while on chemotherapy, and advanced research techniques that seek new diagnostic approaches and ways to reduce cardiotoxicity.

Drs. Francis and Scherrer-Crosbie note that many professional societies have embraced the need for attention to cardio-oncology. The American College of Cardiology held a six-hour intensive during its Scientific Sessions in March. Coverage of the ACC intensive is also included in the issue of EBO.

About the Journal

The American Journal of Managed Care, now in its 20th year of publication, is the leading peer-reviewed journal dedicated to issues in managed care. Other titles are The American Journal of Pharmacy Benefits, which provides pharmacy and formulary decision makers with information to improve the efficiency and health outcomes in managing pharmaceutical care. In December 2013, AJMC introduced The American Journal of Accountable Care, which publishes research and commentary devoted to understanding changes to the healthcare system due to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. AJMC’s news publications, the Evidence-Based series, bring together stakeholder views from payers, providers, policymakers and pharmaceutical leaders in oncology and diabetes management. To order reprints of articles appearing in AJMC publications, please call (609) 716-7777, x 131.

CONTACT:    Nicole Beagin (609) 716-7777 x 131
        nbeagin(at)ajmc(dot)com
        http://www.ajmc.com

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Mary Caffrey
The American Journal of Managed Care
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Nicole Beagin
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