Cardiotoxicity Prevention Program
Canada’s largest cardiotoxicity program is focused on patients at risk of, or experiencing heart complications from cancer therapy.
By studying how such heart damage develops, and through early detection, prevention and long-term care, we work collaboratively to find the optimal cancer therapy for each patient. Our goal is to help cancer patients avoid another life-threatening illness: heart failure.
In this globally recognized program, more than 2,000 patients are cared for each year at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. Our members also publish groundbreaking studies, contribute to guidelines, deliver sessions at major conferences, and train cardiologists in this unique discipline.
Areas of Impact
Better patient outcomes
We assess and manage each patient’s cardiovascular risk, existing heart disease during cancer treatment, and cardiac events that occur during cancer therapy.
Our program has directly impacted patient outcomes. Among women with breast cancer whose therapy puts them at high risk, incidence of heart failure has decreased by ~50% in our clinic compared to historical rates.
We target emerging areas of need with unique services such as our clonal hematopoiesis clinic – one of the world’s first – that now treats people who are at greater genetic risk to both cancer and heart disease.
Collaborating for key discoveries
Researchers conduct studies to recognize and prevent heart disease in cancer patients. Our research has also established the burden of heart failure linked to common breast cancer therapies. We are able to leverage and build the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Biobank as a resource to test novel ideas, and use the Ted Rogers Centre’s data science program to generate important new answers from an ever-expanding data lake.
We have laid the foundation for many multicenter international collaborations. The landmark SUCCOUR trial compared imaging strategies to prevent heart failure in cancer patients for which we recruited twice as many patients as the next highest centre among 26 around the world. Other major studies target new biomarkers, advanced imaging, exercise rehab therapy for young cancer survivors, and innovative approaches to preventing heart failure in high-risk cancer patients.
New avenues to understand risk
Our team developed the world’s first risk prediction model to identify patients with breast cancer at risk for heart disease five and 10 years into the future. This major advance enables clinicians to proactively manage patients at highest risk of cardiotoxicity even before cancer therapy begins.
Another key study focused on patients with leukemia who receiving targeted cancer therapy. This is the largest study to date in this field and provided unique data on the association of cancer therapy with, arrhythmia, bleeding and heart failure.
This is believed to be the first study to show an association with certain mutations in blood cells in patients with leukemia and the risk of cardiovascular disease after cancer treatment.
We are shaping the next generation of specialists and physicians through a world-class fellowship training program in cardio-oncology. For many cardiology residents, it is the first time they are learning of this unique clinical challenge.
We also seek to expand global knowledge in this area so that patients anywhere can receive more optimized care. In one recent initiative, we created a special online module so clinicians anywhere can better understand and measure “strain” using echocardiography. This provides the opportunity for clinicals globally to learn to apply this novel tool in their daily clinical practice.