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Ann Oncol. 2002 Apr;13(4):503-12.

Frequency and risk factors of anthracycline-induced clinical heart failure in children: a systematic review.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Oncology, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. L.C.Kremer@amc.uva.nl



Anthracyclines are essential for the treatment of the children with cancer. We performed a systematic review to evaluate the existing evidence of the frequency and risk factors of anthracycline-induced clinical heart failure (A-CHF) in children.


Medline was searched for articles reporting the frequency of A-CHF, published from 1966 to December 2000. Information about study features, risk factors and frequency were abstracted, and a validity score was given for each study. The potential predictive factors of A-CHF were analysed both within and across the studies.


The frequency of A-CHF in children was estimated in 30 studies described in 25 articles. All studies have serious methodological limitations. The frequency varied between 0% and 16%. In the analysis across the studies the type of anthracyclines and the maximal dose in 1 week explain a considerable part of the variation of the frequency of A-CHF.


Doxorubicin and a dose above 45 mg/m2 within 1 week seemed to increase the frequency of A-CHF. Well designed and executed studies are needed to accurately estimate the frequency of A-CHF and reliably assess the importance of potential risk factors.

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