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Br J Haematol. 2005 Dec;131(5):561-78.

Protecting against anthracycline-induced myocardial damage: a review of the most promising strategies.

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Division of Paediatrics, Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Over the last 40 years, great progress has been made in treating childhood and adult cancers. However, this progress has come at an unforeseen cost, in the form of emerging long-term effects of anthracycline treatment. A major complication of anthracycline therapy is its adverse cardiovascular effects. If these cardiac complications could be reduced or prevented, higher doses of anthracyclines could potentially be used, thereby further increasing cancer cure rates. Moreover, as the incidence of cardiac toxicity resulting in congestive heart failure or even heart transplantation dropped, the quality and extent of life for cancer survivors would improve. We review the proposed mechanisms of action of anthracyclines and the consequences associated with anthracycline treatment in children and adults. We summarise the most promising current strategies to limit or prevent anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity, as well as possible strategies to prevent existing cardiomyopathy from worsening.

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