Role of baseline echocardiography prior to initiation of anthracycline-based chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: Anthracycline adjuvant therapy has taken a particular role in the treatment of early stage breast cancer with an associated decrease in rates of both relapse and death. Their success however has been limited by their myelosuppression and their well-established risk of cardiac dysfunction. Guidelines have emerged that would limit the maximum lifetime dose of anthracyclines and make a baseline assessment and periodic monitoring of cardiac function part of the routine practice, which could be cumbersome, and may condemn the patient to an unwarranted modification of his/her regimen. Our study aimed at assessing the incidence of abnormal baseline echocardiography in asymptomatic women with breast cancer prior to anthracycline therapy and establishing risk criteria associated with abnormal echocardiograms at baseline. METHODS: 220 Patients seen at AUBMC (American University of Beirut Medical Center) who had non- metastatic breast cancer, and had an echocardiography performed before starting anthracycline chemotherapy were chosen. Data about demographic characteristics, tumor characteristics, baseline echocardiography results, and change in clinical decision was collected. Patients with suboptimal (less than 50%) ejection fraction (EF) on baseline echocardiography were analyzed for the prevalence of cardiac risk factors. Results were compared to those among the overall study group using Fisher's Exact test. A p- value of = < 0.05 was used as reference for statistical significance. RESULTS: All 220 of our patients had received a baseline echo prior to initiation of anthracycline therapy. 6.7% of these patients had already some abnormality in wall motion but only 2.7% had a suboptimal ejection fraction. 1.3% had a change in chemotherapy regimen based on ejection fraction. The patients with depressed EF had higher rates of CAD (coronary artery disease), diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia than the overall study group but without statistical significance. CONCLUSIONS: Our study, as well as the previous contingent studies raise the question about routine echocardiography prior to anthracycline therapy and might eventually lead to a modification of current practice guidelines.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • BMC Cancer  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Anthracyclines, Antibiotics, Antineoplastic, Breast Neoplasms, Female, Heart Diseases, Humans, Risk Factors, Ultrasonography
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mina A; Rafei H; Khalil M; Hassoun Y; Nasser Z; Tfayli A
  • Start Page

  • 10
  • Volume

  • 15