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Monday, 24 July 2006 11:53
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Cancer drug link to heart failure
Scientists have warned that a widely hailed cancer drug can damage cardiac tissue and may lead to heart failure.

The cancer drug Glivec has boosted survival rates for people with chronic myeloid leukaemia and extended life expectancy for people with a rare type of stomach tumour.

But new evidence from American scientists reveals Glivec has side-effects that can lead to heart failure. The investigation was sparked by ten leukaemia sufferers who developed heart failure while taking Glivec.

They suffered sudden, severe, heart failure after starting their course of treatment. The findings are published today in the journal Nature Medicine.

Professor Thomas Force, from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, who led the research, said:

"We're trying to call attention to the fact that Gleevec [the drug's US name] and other similar drugs coming along could have significant side effects on the heart and clinicians need to be aware of this. It's a potential problem, because the number of targeted agents is growing rapidly”.

Dr Laura-Jane Armstrong, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said Glivec saved many lives a year.

"It is worth noting that other cancer drugs, including targeted therapies such as Herceptin, also carry some risk of heart problems, but they are still used, as the benefits of treating the cancer far outweigh the heart risks”.
   


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