Cardiotoxicity is a common concern in cancer patients receiving chemotherapeutic agents, as it can lead to serious cardiovascular complications such as heart failure, myocardial ischemia, hypertension, thromboembolism, and arrhythmias. These conditions can greatly affect a patient’s prognosis and survival, and pose an even greater threat to aging cancer patients.
To bolster research efforts on preventing cardiotoxic effects of cancer treatment, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) granted the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center a total of $4.4 million worth of funding for a clinical trial on the efficacy of a statin medication for patients with breast cancer. The NHLBI donated $3 million, while the NCI contributed $1.4 million.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Gregory Hundley, who is also a professor at Wake Forest Baptist, said that while the newer cancer treatments have gotten more effective, many of them can cause adverse effects. Chemotherapeutic agents that contain anthracycline in particular can lead to serious cardiovascular complications. Dr. Hundley believes including atorvastatin in a breast cancer patient’s regimen can help prevent cardiotoxicity, not necessarily by reducing cholesterol levels, but by lending an anti-inflammatory effect. The research team will be conducting the study in several sites: one facility being Wake Forest Baptist, and others in North and South Carolina, Louisiana, Kansas and New York.
Another important aspect of breast cancer research is improved screening, especially advancing early screening tests. OncoCyte Corporation recently partnered with Abcodia Ltd. for further research on how a patented blood test called PanC-Dx™ can be used as a non-invasive, cost-friendly technique for the early detection of breast cancer in patients of all ages.