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Oncology and the Heart

February 2024 Vol 10 No 1
Woman holding a pink heart

Quality healthcare calls for team members to collaborate and work in tandem to improve patient outcomes, prevent medical errors, improve efficiency, and increase patient satisfaction. In oncology, this team involves other specialties. The worlds of heart health and oncology have intersected in a developing field designated as cardio-oncology. This area focuses on the prevention or management of heart disease occurring as a side effect of cancer treatment. Chemotherapy, biotherapy, or radiotherapy can help people live longer, but select types of treatment have possible side effects that include new or worsening heart disease. Also, newly diagnosed patients can present with a variety of heart concerns that were present prior to the cancer diagnosis that must be monitored during oncology treatment. Your oncology care team, and this can include a cardio-oncologist, may recommend a cardiological assessment before starting treatment, as well as assessments that continue throughout your cancer care and even persist years after therapy is completed. Cardio-oncology is a welcomed addition to personalized treatment regimens designed to limit cardiotoxicity. Major advances in cancer treatment mean that patients are living longer. There are more than 18 million adult survivors of cancer today, and that number is projected to increase by 24.4%, to 22.5 million, by 2032.1

Lifestyle habits such as poor nutrition, lack of exercise, obesity, and smoking can overlap as risk factors for the development of cancer and heart disease. Again, as these fields intersect, lowering the risk of heart disease may not only keep the heart healthy but may also help lower the risk of cancer.

The beginning of a new year is a suitable time to look at lifestyle habits to prevent heart disease as well as cancer. Also, it is an optimal time to recognize the field of cardio-oncology and appreciate the care management of cancer and heart disease.

Your Navigator,

Sharon Gentry's Signature


  1. National Cancer Institute. Statistics and graphs.

Sharon S. Gentry, MSN, RN, HON-ONN-CG, AOCN, CBCN, is an oncology healthcare provider with over 40 years of oncology care experience, the Program Director of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+), and a champion of people living with cancer.

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