Chemotherapy that contains anthracyclines is associated with later cardiac illness in breast cancer patients

Research Activities, April 2010

Anthracyclines are effective chemotherapy agents for battling breast cancer. However, because high doses can damage the heart, lifetime limits are placed on these drugs. A new study finds that women who received anthracycline-containing chemotherapy were 25 percent more likely to have congestive heart failure than women who did not receive chemotherapy.

University of Texas researchers followed the 16-year course of 19,478 women aged 65 and older who were diagnosed with breast cancer from 1991 to 1997. The 1,104 women who received anthracycline-containing chemotherapy had higher incidence rates for congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and cardiac dysrhythmia than women who received no chemotherapy. In fact, the probability of experiencing congestive heart failure in year 10 was 31.9 percent for women who received chemotherapy that contained anthracyclines compared with 26.4 percent for women who received other kinds of chemotherapy and 27.2 percent for women who received no chemotherapy.

Further, women who received 10 or more doses of the anthracycline-containing chemotherapy were at the highest risk for congestive heart failure compared with women who did not receive chemotherapy. In fact, patients with advanced cancer who received 10 or more doses of that type of chemotherapy were 37 percent more likely to develop congestive heart failure. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16743).

See "Cardiac toxicity associated with anthracycline-containing chemotherapy in older women with breast cancer," by Xianglin L. Du, M.D., Ph.D., Rui Xia, M.S., Chih-Chin Liu, M.S., and others in the November 15, 2009 Cancer, 115(22), pp. 5296-5308.

Current as of April 2010
Internet Citation: Chemotherapy that contains anthracyclines is associated with later cardiac illness in breast cancer patients: Research Activities, April 2010. April 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/apr10/0410RA8.html