More people than ever are surviving cancer treatments. However, many of these lifesaving treatments have potential side effects, including damage to the heart. Cardio-oncology is an emerging specialty with clinicians in both cancer and cardiology. CMC’s new Cardio-Oncology Program brings together the skills of the New England Heart & Vascular Institute (NEHVI) and Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center, two top ranked centers at the forefront of patient care and research in New Hampshire.
“We want to protect your heart before, during and after your cancer treatment,” says Dr. Besiana Liti, who is launching the program with fellow cardiologist Dr. Steven Beaudette and oncologist Dr. Philip Manno. “Certain types of chemotherapy and radiation can have long-lasting effects on the heart, leading cancer survivors to face a host of conditions like hypertension, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and more.”
The program helps cancer patients who are at risk for or have heart disease as well as cancer survivors whose hearts may have been damaged by their therapy. The team can also work with patients prior to or while they are receiving a course of treatment that has the potential to damage their heart.
“We’re giving patients something they can’t get in too many places,” says Dr. Manno, a hematologist and oncologist with Norris Cotton Cancer Center. “We’re watching patients for complications they may need to deal with downstream from cancer treatment. The idea is to reduce risk and make it safer to treat patients.”
“There have been significant strides in cancer treatment,” says Dr. Liti, “but there has been equally groundbreaking work in cardiology. With advanced imaging we can detect potential cardiac damage earlier and intervene. We can also work with a patient’s oncology team to prevent or reduce cardiac damage from cancer treatment. Patients will be able to not only live longer but be healthier, too.”
If you are a cancer survivor or current cancer patient with concerns about your heart health, speak with your provider.