Study Suggests Heart Drug Should be Included with Pediatric Chemotherapy Regimen

Dexrazoxane may prevent chemotherapy-related heart conditions in children.

A recent analysis found that anthracyclines, a chemotherapy commonly used to treat pediatric cancer, may have long-lasting effects on the heart.

However, investigators also found that another drug may provide protection from chemotherapy-related heart damage. In a study published by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, investigators conducted a review of medical literature to determine the effects of anthracyclines on children with cancer.

They discovered this type of chemotherapy can increase the risk of cardiomyopathy, heart failure, heart attacks, valve disease, pericardial disease, hypertension, and other heart conditions. Another recent study suggests the use of cardioprotective drugs, such as angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors or adopting a healthy lifestyle in adult patients with cancer, can further protect against heart problems during cancer treatment.

Investigators in the current study discovered that the cardioprotective drug dexrazoxane can prevent cardiac conditions, but will not reduce the effect of chemotherapy.

“Our review defines that the price of treatment for childhood cancer for many survivors is persistent, often progressive, and pervasive cardiotoxicity for those treated with anthracycline chemotherapy,” said Steven Lipshultz, MD. “We then show that the accumulated data indicate that this chemotherapy-related heart damage can be ameliorated or prevented by the drug dexrazoxane when given immediately before each anthracycline dose.”

The findings suggest that dexrazoxane can allow anthracyclines to be given safely, and at higher doses, without risking heart damage, according to the study. The investigators noted that the cardiaoprotective drug should be prescribed as a part of a chemotherapy regimen for pediatric patients with cancer.

“If implemented, more children with cancer who are treated with anthracyclines may be cured of their malignancy and with less chemotherapy-associated toxicity and late effects,” Dr Lipshultz concluded.