Biomarkers could tag chemo heart risk

A combination of biomarkers and imaging could tag chemotherapy-induced heart damage early on, cutting long-term heart risk in cancer survivors, according to a study reported at the recent San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Anthracycline drugs such as doxorubicin are commonly used in cancer treatment, especially breast cancer and childhood cancers, but they can cause heart damage. As more people--especially children--are surviving cancer and living on for many years, preventing these long-term effects is becoming increasingly important. Picking out the people at risk would pinpoint those who should receive either heart-safe chemotherapies or drugs that protect the heart muscle against damage. The researchers focused on circulating epithelial progenitor cells (EPCs) as potential biomarkers for heart damage, as these are already used as markers in heart attacks and heart disease, and they used cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) to look at physical changes to the heart muscle. Release

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