The guidelines, which aim to improve patient outcomes and establish best practice in the heart care of cancer patients, are co-authored by Dr Arjun Ghosh, a Consultant Cardiologist who leads The London Clinic’s Cardio-Oncology service.
Cancer treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and newer treatments like immunotherapy) can potentially cause a variety of cardiovascular complications for cancer patients, including heart failure, myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation) and heart attacks. Cardio-oncology plays a key role in preventing complications from developing and managing them if they do occur.
The new guidelines outline the best process for assessing cancer patients before, during and after two common cancer treatments: anthracyclines and Herceptin.
Anthracyclines are a class of drugs used in chemotherapy for many cancers including but not limited to leukaemia, lymphomas, breast, stomach and lung cancers; while Herceptin is most commonly used as part of targeted drug therapy for breast cancer.
The aim of these guidelines is to ensure all echocardiography departments across the country have a clear process to follow that will improve patient care and outcomes, while establishing the UK’s first formal system of best practice in cardio-oncology.
Dr Ghosh said: “Previously there was no UK-specific guidance at all for cardio-oncology.
"This felt like a tremendous oversight, both for healthcare professionals and for patients. A set of guidelines would really help establish standards and move the field forward.
“We set out to bring everyone together on the same page, to educate and democratise access to the best possible care in cardio-oncology.
"The guidelines are available for doctors, specialist heart and cancer nurses, patients and the general public to view, and we’ve already received lots of positive interest from other nations, including Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Australia and India.
"Our hope is that, in time, these guidelines will translate into middle and lower income countries, helping set a global standard in the heart care of patients with cancer.”
The guidelines, co-authored by Dr Ghosh and Dr Rebecca Dobson, were first published in March 2021 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology Cardio-Oncology (JACC Cardio-Oncology) and Echo Research and Practice.
As the UK’s first consultant specifically appointed to cardio-oncology in the UK, Dr Ghosh has a keen interest in progressing this field and promoting medical education.