The Cardio-Oncology program at El Camino Health is designed and dedicated to preventing and minimizing heart damage from cancer treatment. We aim to improve the heart health of newly diagnosed cancer patients, patients undergoing cancer treatments and cancer survivors. Our team is committed to helping prevent, reduce, treat and manage heart damage from cancer treatment.
Why You May Need Cardio-Oncology
Cancer treatment can be hard on your heart in many ways. Some drugs used in chemotherapy contain antibodies and enzymes that can affect healthy cells as well as cancerous ones. For instance, some drugs can slow or block cells from self-replicating to create healthy new cells. Radiation therapy for breast cancer — particularly if it involves the left breast — can also have effects on the heart. Cancer treatment can increase the risk for coronary artery disease, congestive heart disease, heart valve disease, arrhythmias and other heart conditions — including sudden cardiac death. For those who have pre-existing heart disease, chemotherapy may worsen the situation, so it may be necessary to modify the dosage or timing, or both.
How We Can Help
Our specially trained cardiologists and other professionals work with patients before, during and after cancer treatment, to help ensure the treatment plan is as heart-safe and effective as possible. You can turn to us if you:
- Already have heart disease and need cancer treatment.
- Are at high risk for developing a heart disease during or after cancer treatment.
- Already have a heart condition related to cancer treatment.
We’ll assess your situation and needs, give you a physical exam and take a complete medical history. We use the latest cardiac diagnostic technology and screenings to assess heart health. We may do special blood tests to look for certain markers for heart damage. More extensive evaluation may include imaging with ultrasound and in rare occasions with a cardiac MRI. In some cases, we may be able to identify damage to heart cells before heart function begins to suffer.
We’ll use this information as we create a treatment and management plan just for you, to help minimize heart risk or to manage any current or late effects of cancer treatment. Our team follows guidelines from the American College of Cardiology.
Before and During Treatment
Our cardiology team works closely with your oncologist, radiation oncologist and other members of your care team to coordinate treatment to minimize risks of certain chemotherapy medications. We can monitor your heart health during and after treatment, and may be able to help reduce risk by adjusting the dosage or creating a schedule that helps reduce heart risk.
Because some late effects of cancer treatment can show up years later, we’ll monitor your health function for years after your cancer treatment is complete. We can provide advanced care using the latest evidenced-based guidelines for helping to manage your heart after your cancer treatment has been completed — as well as wellness and preventive care to help you and your heart stay as healthy as possible.
If needed, we can draw from all the resources of El Camino Health and also link you with other resources in the community. We often work closely with the South Asian Heart Center, El Camino Health Lifestyle Medicine program and other specialists and programs.