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Cardiac monitoring and heart failure in advanced breast cancer patients treated with trastuzumab in Ontario, Canada


Background — Trastuzumab has improved patient outcomes in HER2 + breast cancer (BC) but carries a risk of cardiotoxicity. Routine cardiac imaging is recommended for advanced breast cancer (aBC) patients during trastuzumab treatment despite a lack of evidence that this improves patient outcomes. This study was conducted to understand predictive factors for cardiac events and determine the impact of cardiovascular monitoring in aBC.

Methods — This retrospective population-based cohort study included aBC patients treated with trastuzumab (all lines), in Ontario, Canada from 2007 to 2017. The overall cohort was divided into two groups; those who developed a cardiac event (CE) vs. those who did not. Patients with pre-existing heart disease were excluded. Logistic regression was performed to identify patient characteristics associated with an increased risk of CE.

Results — Of 2,284 patients with HER2 + aBC treated with trastuzumab, 167 (7.3%) developed a CE. Median age at first dose of trastuzumab was 57 (IQR 49–66); 61 (IQR 51–70) for patients with a CE. Median number of cycles was 16 (IQR 7–32); 21 (IQR 8–45) for patients with a CE (p < 0.01). Twelve (0.5%) patients died of cardiac causes; all had a prior CE. Increased risk of CEs was associated with age > 60 (OR 5.21, 95% CI 1.83–14.84, p = 0.05) and higher number cycles of trastuzumab (OR 1.01; 95% CI 1–101, p = 0.028).

Conclusion — This is the first population-based study to report on CEs and cardiac monitoring in HER2 + aBC patients during trastuzumab-based therapy. Older age and longer treatment with trastuzumab were associated with an increased risk of a CE.



Rushton M, Kappel C, Lima I, Tuna M, Pritchard K, Hawken S, Dent S. Front Cardiovasc Med. 2022; 9:850674. Epub 2022 May 19.

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