Cardio-oncology is a new innovation in the field of cardiology that deals with the detection, monitoring, and treatment of cardiovascular diseases that may have occurred in a human body due to the side effects of cancer treatment procedures including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Oncology treatment in the Netherlands has been introduced a couple of years ago through a collaboration between the Departments of Cardiology, Radiology, Hematology, and Oncology. Many hospitals and clinics in the Netherlands are opting for this method.
With the advanced technologies and methods to treat cancer such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the disease, if found at early stages, can easily be treated and eradicated from the patient’s body. These methods have caused a massive survival rate among cancer patients across the world. However, such treatments could have a long-term effect on the human body in terms of both survival and quality of life. Some of the common diseases are cognitive difficulties, hearing problems, heart problems, lung problems, increased risk of additional cancers, nerve damage, osteoporosis, and more. To tackle these diseases, cardio-oncology has been termed as a pathway to a better and healthier life post-cancer treatment. In the early years of the introduction, cardiologists in the Netherlands were taught about possible cardiovascular complications. For this purpose, several medical care centers were developed across the country primarily for cardio-oncology care. All the problems that were caused due to the treatment were taken care of at the spot. New innovations were developed with a focus to prevent short-term cardiovascular harm and promote long-term health benefits.
The care is subdivided into different categories to figure out the short-term and long-term effects:
Screening for LV dysfunction and heart failure
This screening is used to detect the early LV dysfunction or heart failure to adjust the cancer treatment. A 3D echocardiography including deformation imaging analysis is formed to detect the disease in patients with a low cumulative dose of anthracyclines when received a high cumulative dose.
Preventing acute cardiovascular problems and emergency consultation
For patients who are at a high-risk factor of posing cardiovascular complications such as hypertension, arrhythmias, QT prolongation, pericarditis, etc.
Long term screening in childhood cancer survivors
In every cardio-oncology care center, a separate section for childhood survivors has been created. It specifically monitors the long-term effects in children after their cancer treatment.
Long term screening in adult patients due to Hodgkin Lymphoma
It is intended for Hodgkin lymphoma survivors who are lymphoma-free for at least 5 years. The age of the patient should be between 15 to 60 years when diagnosed and not older than 70 at the time of referral.
The patients have also been educated about the treatment. Annual patient meetings are also conducted where the focus is to detect long-term cardiovascular complications. After all the research and testing, the cardio-oncology treatment has been recognized as an important attribution of the cardiovascular treatment provided in the Netherlands. Different hospitals have established cardio-oncology care centers – both academic and non-academic. The Dutch Cardio-Oncology working group is still training and promoting the knowledge of cardio-oncology through collaboration with different academic research centers.