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Cancer Drug Linked to Cardiac Toxicity

Heart failure, hypertension, left ventricular dysfunction observed

FRIDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Sunitinib can lead to cardiac toxicity, such as heart failure, hypertension and reductions in left ventricular ejection fraction, when used to treat cancer patients, researchers report in the Dec. 15 issue of The Lancet.

Tammy F. Chu, from Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues reviewed all cardiac events in 75 patients with imatinib-resistant, metastatic, gastrointestinal stromal tumors who had participated in a clinical trial examining the efficacy of sunitinib.

The researchers found that eight patients (11 percent) had a cardiovascular event. Of these, 8 percent had congestive heart failure and 47 percent developed hypertension. Of the 36 patients treated at the approved sunitinib dose, 28 percent had reductions in left ventricular ejection fraction of at least 10 percent. Heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction generally responded to withholding of sunitinib and medical care. Sunitinib was toxic to cardiomyocytes both in mice and in cultured rat cardiomyocytes.

"Patients treated with sunitinib should be closely monitored for hypertension and left ventricular ejection fraction reduction, especially those with a history of coronary artery disease or cardiac risk factors," Chu and colleagues conclude.

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