Minimizing Cardiac Toxicity for Lung Cancer Patients
Carmen Bergom, MD, PhD, and El-Sayed Ibrahim, PhD, and their team at the Medical College of Wisconsin are conducting a pilot study to determine whether advanced cardiac MRI can be used to detect early, non-symptomatic damage to the heart in lung cancer patients treated with radiation therapy. Numerous studies show that many patients develop heart damage following radiation treatment for cancers near the heart. However, patients often do not have symptoms that can be detected by their doctors. Once heart failure has been diagnosed, the two-year survival rate for these patients is only 40%.
The team is working to better understand how radiation therapy affects the heart so that treatment plans can be personalized to reduce damage to the heart and improve long-term outcomes among patients with lung cancer. Cardiac MRI is very sensitive and can detect non-symptomatic heart damage in different locations and substructures of the heart. Their goal is to develop a method to identify changes in the heart more accurately and at an earlier timepoint after radiation treatment, and findings from their study may help to help determine which patients could benefit from interventions to prevent the development of symptomatic heart damage after radiation.
In this pilot study, Dr. Bergom, Dr. Ibrahim and their team are:
- Comparing cardiac MRI scans of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) taken before and six-months after treatment with radiation and chemotherapy to determine the level of heart damage.
- Measuring associations between the amount of radiation that different areas of the heart receive and the changes in cardiac function in those areas.
- Testing to see if cardiac biomarkers in the blood can help predict heart damage resulting from radiation therapy sooner.
Eventually, this information could be used to improve outcomes for patients with lung cancer by preventing and managing the effects of radiation to the heart through personalizing treatment plans to limit cardiac damage and identifying patients who need additional care earlier.