How to avoid heart damage in women receiving breast cancer treatment
Women with breast cancer are set to be enrolled in a clinical trial examining the ability of behavioural and psychological interventions to reduce the heart damage from anti-cancer therapies. The innovative CARDIOCARE project is being conducted by a consortium of European partners including the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
Cardiovascular disease is a devastating complication of anti-cancer treatment that affects physical and mental health,” said project coordinator Professor Dimitrios I. Fotiadis of the University of Ioannina, Greece. “CARDIOCARE will provide women over the age of 65 with breast cancer the tools to improve their physical health and to psychologically adapt to the disease.”
Breast cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in the EU, accounting for 13.3% of all new cancer cases in 2020.2 It is estimated that 1 in 11 women in the EU will develop breast cancer by the age of 74.
The five-year, EU-funded CARDIOCARE project (https://cardiocare-project.eu/) aims to radically change the management of older women with breast cancer. The project is harnessing the expertise of cardiologists, oncologists, psychologists, molecular biologists, bioinformaticians, computer scientists and biomedical engineers from seven countries across Europe (Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Slovenia, Sweden, the Netherlands and France) to improve the monitoring, treatment and care these patients receive.
A clinical trial evaluating the impact of behavioural and psychological interventions on quality of life, physical and mental wellbeing, and the cardiotoxic effects of breast cancer treatment will be conducted in 750 patients with breast cancer at six clinical centres in Europe.
CARDIOCARE mobile application
All patients in the trial will receive the CARDIOCARE mobile application (app). Participants will be randomly allocated to receive the app incorporating both ePsycHeart and eHealtHeart or to receive the app with ePsycHeart only. ePsycHeart will monitor quality of life, mobility and mental health using a wearable chest band heart rate sensor, smartwatch and questionnaires. eHealtHeart will encourage patients in the intervention group to adopt behaviours including physical activity, healthy diet, games to improve memory and changing the home environment to reduce the risk of falls.
Early identification of women with breast cancer at the greatest risk of heart and blood vessel damage
Another major goal of the trial is the early identification of women with breast cancer at the greatest risk of heart and blood vessel damage from anti-cancer treatments. Cutting-edge technologies such as next generation sequencing will be used to pinpoint changes in gut microbe species that signal damage of the heart and blood vessels before symptoms occur. In addition, artificial intelligence will be used to analyse images of the heart to predict the likelihood of heart damage.
Professor Fotiadis said: “CARDIOCARE is on track to improve the physical and mental health of older women with breast cancer by detecting the cardiovascular side effects of anti-cancer treatment early and providing digital tools to help patients improve their mental and physical wellbeing.”