Cancer drug class, anthracyclines, has potential toxic side effect

April 19, 2022

For the millions of people who could face a cancer diagnosis this year, it's vital to have all therapeutic options available, but in some cases, the drugs used to treat cancer can cause other health problems during treatment or later, according to a Mayo Clinic news release.

One example is a class of drugs called anthracyclines, which are derived from bacteria found in Italian soil decades ago. This group of about six chemotherapy drugs has been used since the 1960s to treat leukemia, lymphoma, sarcoma, and breast cancer, as well as other cancers that have spread from their original site.

But a serious side effect of anthracyclines is heart damage either during treatment — which means patients must stop using it — or weeks, months, or even years later. This heart damage can decrease the quality and duration of a former cancer patient's life.

To find the best path for care, a team of clinician-researchers and discovery scientists report on a potential way to prevent or heal heart damage when anthracyclines are used to treat cancer. The paper is published in Circulation Research.

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