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Cancer. 1985 Sep 15;56(6):1361-5.

Doxorubicin-induced congestive heart failure in adults.


The prognosis of doxorubicin-induced congestive heart failure (CHF) is reported to be poor. To define the clinical course of doxorubicin-induced CHF, the authors reviewed their experience with 43 patients with this diagnosis. The median age of the total group was 55 years (range, 23-69); the median cumulative dose of doxorubicin was 450 mg/m2 (range, 200 mg/m2-1150 mg/m2). A majority of the patients had a diagnosis of breast cancer. The median survival of the whole group estimated by means of a Kaplan-Meier plot was 112 weeks. Twelve of 43 patients (28%) died of CHF, 7 of them (16%) because of fulminant failure in less than 8 weeks and the remaining 5 because of a more protracted course with recurrent episodes of cardiac decompensation. Twenty-five of the 43 patients (58%) achieved complete control of CHF. In the remaining 6 patients (14%), CHF had improved but was not completely controlled at the time of death, which was secondary to progressive tumor. Treatment consisted of standard therapy with digitalis and diuretics. Survival was significantly shorter in patients who presented with class IV dyspnea and in those who developed CHF less than 4 weeks after administration of the last dose of doxorubicin. The authors conclude that in a majority of patients, doxorubicin-induced CHF is easily treatable and frequently controlled with digitalis and diuretics.

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