TAMPA, Fla. - Approximately 30 percent of all cancer patients develop cardiovascular complications during treatment. USF Health and Moffitt Cancer Center are taking aim to reduce this risk by launching Florida’s first comprehensive academic Cardio-Oncology Program. The joint effort combines the expertise of cardiologists and oncologists to provide better care for cancer patients who have a history of cardiovascular disease or have developed cardiotoxic side effects from chemotherapy.
“Cardiotoxicity is a common adverse effect of many cancer therapies. Anticancer drugs and radiation are designed to target and kill tumor cells, but there can also be collateral injury to other healthy tissues, such as the heart,” said Michael Fradley, MD, director of the new Cardio-Oncology Program and assistant professor of medicine in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.
It can be challenging to distinguish cardiotoxic side effects from those related to the cancer treatment itself, such as fatigue and shortness of breath. Knowing if a patient has a pre-existing heart condition before treatment can help physicians decide the most effective course of therapy.
In addition, there are now more than 12 million cancer survivors living in the United States and many of these patients have been exposed to cardiotoxic therapies. The cardiovascular effects may not become apparent for five to ten years after completion of cancer therapy. This comprehensive program will also work to provide longitudinal care to cancer survivors in order to minimize long term complications.
Dr. Fradley will work with Roohi Ismail-Khan, MD, a medical oncologist with the Center for Women’s Oncology at Moffitt.
“This program will have a great impact on our patients. While cardiotoxicity can affect all cancer types, we often see the effects in breast cancer patients. For example, Herceptin is an effective targeted therapy for patients with HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer, but research shows the drug may also lead to cardiovascular complications,” said Dr. Ismail-Khan.
“Cardio-oncology is a relatively new area that is rapidly developing. There are only a few such programs in the country that aim to improve the quality of care in patients with two of the most common diseases, cancer and heart disease,” said Arthur Labovitz, MD, chair of the Department of Cardiology in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “Together, Moffitt and the USF Health Department of Cardiovascular Sciences will offer the latest and most comprehensive care available.”
Services offered by the new program will include:
- Evaluation and management of patients with diagnoses of cardiovascular disease who are preparing for or are undergoing cancer treatment.
- Treatment of patients who develop heart failure following treatments known to cause cardiac dysfunction, such as anthracyclines, Herceptin and radiation.
- Assessment of the potential cardiovascular complications of new molecular-targeted cancer therapies, including arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, cardiac ischemia and hypertension, with the goal of
establishing tailored treatments for these complications.
- Cardiovascular imaging including advanced 3D echocardiography systems to provide faster turnaround of results.
- Preoperative cardiovascular evaluation for patients undergoing cancer surgery.
“This comprehensive approach of combining cardiologists and oncologists underscores Moffitt’s commitment to providing a multidisciplinary team approach to cancer care. Having a team of experts working together to develop and manage a patient’s treatment plan from the beginning gives our patients their best chance for beating cancer,” said W. Michael Alberts, MD, MBA, chief medical officer at Moffitt.
Cardio-Oncology Program patients will be seen at Moffitt, as well as the USF Health Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare and USF Health South Tampa Center. For more information, please call 813-745-2718.
About USF Health
USF Health's mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. USF Health is an integral part of the University of South Florida, a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. For more information, visit health.usf.edu.
About Moffitt Cancer Center
Located in Tampa, Moffitt is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the top-ranked cancer hospital in Florida and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer since 1999. With more than 4,500 employees, Moffitt has an economic impact on Florida of nearly $1.6 billion. For more information, visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.