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Trastuzumab-Induced Cardiotoxicity

Lisa Stegall Moss
Mandy Fields Starbuck
Deborah K. Mayer
Elaine Brooks Harwood
Jana Glotzer
ONF 2009, 36(6), 676-685 DOI: 10.1188/09.ONF.676-685

Purpose/Objectives: To review trastuzumab-related cardiotoxic effects in the breast cancer adjuvant setting, present a system for pretreatment screening for cardiovascular risk factors, describe monitoring recommendations, provide a tool to facilitate adherence to monitoring guidelines, and discuss implications for patient education.

Data Sources: Literature regarding cardiotoxicity and trastuzumab in breast cancer.

Data Synthesis: Trastuzumab was approved in 2006 for use in the adjuvant setting. A small percentage of women (~ 4%) developed heart failure during or after treatment. However, the trials excluded women with cardiac disease. Current screening for cardiotoxicity relies on sequential left ventricular function measurements with either echocardiography or multigated acquisition scanning at baseline and every three months. Treatment modifications are recommended if changes from baseline are detected. Long-term and late effects have yet to be determined.

Conclusions: Although a small number of women experienced cardiotoxicity in the adjuvant setting, an increase may be seen because women with preexisting heart disease receive this treatment. Guidelines and tools will be helpful for appropriate and consistent screening of cardiac risk factors and disease prior to initiation of trastuzumab and for monitoring during and after administration.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses are instrumental in assessing, monitoring, and treating women receiving trastuzumab. Implementing guidelines to promote adherence to recommended monitoring is important in the early detection of cardiotoxicity in this population. Educating women about their treatment and side effects is an important aspect of care.

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