Cardio-oncology

Cardio-oncology aims to ensure patients receive the most appropriate treatment and heart health monitoring plan during cancer treatment and beyond.

What is cardio-oncology?

Cardio-oncology is a relatively new service of delivering cardiac care to patients with cancer. By combining the expertise of cardiologists working with medical and radiation oncologists, haematologists, surgeons, specialist nurses and technicians, the cardio-oncology team is able to look after both your cancer treatment and heart health at the same time.

Why is heart health important when being treated for cancer?

What is the goal of cardio-oncology?

The aim is to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate cancer treatment e.g. chemotherapy or radiation therapy, while ensuring that any existing heart conditions are managed and establishing a heart health monitoring plan during the cancer treatment and beyond.

If the treatment and/or circumstances are identified as a risk to the heart, early monitoring and medical support can help significantly to improve the chance of completing cancer treatment without delays or interruptions.

What can you expect from GenesisCare?

GenesisCare provides access to a broad network of specialised cardiologists and cardiac nurses who have an interest in cardio-oncology. We invest in and utilise the latest technology and are at the forefront of research into this emerging field. We recognise the need to avoid delays to cancer treatment so when you look to access our services, we commit to short wait times and affordable care. We also challenge ourselves to find new and better ways to treat illness and disease and deliver better outcomes for our patients. View our clinical trials here.

If you are a patient who is about to start, currently undergoing or you have received chemotherapy previously, you may be referred for tests that help the cardio-oncology team understand how your heart is functioning. It is important to complete the recommended tests since they will provide information that can be used to best support your treatment. Tests commonly used to check heart health are:

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram or ECG assesses the electrical activity in your heart. This provides information on the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat and can help identify abnormal rhythms (which are referred to as arrhythmias). The ECG, which is a non-invasive, painless, and provides information very quickly, involves:

  • Attaching small sensor pads called electrodes to your chest, arms, and legs
  • The electrodes have wires attaching to an electrocardiogram machine that will record and then print out cardiac electrical activity
  • The test is completed within minutes and your cardio-oncology team will then review the results

For more information click here

Echocardiogram (Echo)

Echocardiography, commonly known as an Echo, is an ultrasound that is an easy way for your cardiologist to assess your heart muscle, valves, and large blood vessels. The test, which can take up to 45 minutes, should not cause any pain or discomfort. It involves:

  • You lie down on an examination bed
  • A thick gel being applied to your chest by the technician that will help get images of your heart
  • Placement of a transducer directly over the left side of your chest in the area of your heart
  • The technician will press the transducer firmly as they move the transducer and will ask you to hold your breath for a short time
  • Results of the echo sent directly to your cardiologist

For more information click here

If you are a patient who is about to start, currently undergoing or you have received radiation therapy previously, you may be referred for tests that help the cardio-oncology team understand how your heart is functioning. It is important to complete the recommended tests since they will provide information that can be used to best support your treatment. Tests commonly used to check heart health are:

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram or ECG assesses the electrical activity in your heart. This information gives your team information on the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat and can help identify abnormal rhythms (which are referred to as arrhythmias). The ECG, which is non-invasive, painless and provides information very quickly, involves:

  • Attaching small sensor pads called electrodes to your chest, arms, and legs
  • The electrodes have wires which are attached to an electrocardiogram machine that will record and then print out cardiac electrical activity
  • The test is complete within minutes and your team will then review the results

For more information click here

Echocardiogram (Echo)

Echocardiography, commonly known as an Echo, is an ultrasound that is an easy way for your cardiologist to assess your heart muscle, valves, and large blood vessels. The test, which can take up to 45 minutes, should not cause any pain or discomfort. It involves:

  • You lie down on an examination bed
  • A thick gel being applied to your chest by the technician that will help get images of your heart
  • Placement of a transducer directly over the left side of your chest in the area of your heart
  • The technician will press the transducer firmly as they move the transducer and will ask you to hold your breath for a short time
  • Results of the echo sent directly to your cardiologist

For more information click here

Computed tomography coronary artery calcium scoring (CAC) / coronary angiography (CTCA)

Both these tests use a computerised tomography (CT) scanner and are able to detect calcification in the heart arteries (commonly referred to  “hardening” of the arteries) and the CTCA, which uses a dye is able to highlight any blockages in the arteries of your heart. The CTCA, which takes about 45 minutes to complete and is painless, involves:

  • Monitoring your blood pressure and heart rate, inserting a cannula into a vein in your arm to deliver the ‘contrast dye’, and spraying nitrate under your tongue to help dilate your coronary blood vessels (this is not needed for a CAC score)
  • Lying on a bed that slides under the scanning machine
  • After the scan is complete, you will be monitored for 15–30 minutes and the cannula will be removed (this is not needed for a CAC score)
  • The results will be reviewed by a specialist cardiologist

For more information click here

Signs and symptoms

Patients are a critical member of the cardio-oncology team. During your cancer treatment, the medical team will keep in close contact with you. If you have any concerns or questions between appointments, including potential signs or symptoms associated with your heart, your cardio-oncology team will be available at short notice to help you.

What signs or symptoms should I be aware of?

If you experience any of the following, please call your doctor or nurse:

What signs or symptoms should I be aware of?

If you experience any of the following, please call your doctor or nurse:

Coming to GenesisCare

At GenesisCare you will always have a personalised treatment plan specific to your condition and circumstance. We also have strong measures in place to keep our patients and staff safe from Covid-19, so you can be confident in coming in person. Telehealth options are also available where attending in person isn’t essential.

The process for visiting GenesisCare typically involves:

Your doctor will send a referral to our GenesisCare team. This can be completed by your GP, another specialist or made if you are in hospital.

Once we have received your referral, you will be contacted by a member of our patient support team who will confirm the date and time of your first clinic appointment. Before your first appointment, expect to be contacted again by our team via a letter or a phone call to advise you of next steps and any specific information you may need to bring on the day.

It is important for our team to fully understand your health status. Make a list of your current medications and, if you have any previous test result or letters, we ask that you bring these to your first appointment.

If you can, it is a great idea to bring a support person to your appointments. They may be able to help you with understanding the information shared by the doctor, ask questions and make treatment decisions.

Prepare a list of questions for our team before your appointment. Bring these in a notebook so you can record any notes or further questions.

When you arrive, you may be asked to complete patient intake forms by our team. Once these are complete, our team will guide you to an examination room to perform an ECG. You will then meet with your nurse and cardiologist, who will work with you to create your personalised management plan and assist you with any information you may need.

During your visits to our clinics, our cardio-oncology team will provide you with the information needed to help assess and manage your heart health. Our online tools will provide you with additional information and education that you can access when and where it suits you. Clinic nurses are also available between your appointments for any additional questions or concerns you may have.

Mater in Brisbane

Murdoch in Perth

Nedlands in Perth

Joondalup in Perth

Bunbury in Western Australia

St Andrew’s in Adelaide

Ringwood in Melbourne

Berwick in Melbourne

Langwarrin in Melbourne

St Leonards in Sydney

What can I do to help my heart?

Some risk factors increase the chance of your heart being affected by cancer treatments. Some of these risk factors cannot be changed e.g. your age and family history. However, there are some lifestyle habits that you can look to improve. By following the recommendations below, which are not intended to be difficult or time consuming, you can reduce your heart risk while being treated for cancer:

  1. Not smoking

  2. Daily moderate intensity exercise

  3. Healthy eating

  4. Unhealthy heart symptom awareness

  5. Good control of diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol

  6. Being aware of when and how to seek help if you are concerned

Your cardio-oncology team will discuss these with you in detail during your appointments.

For more information and recommendations on heart-healthy living, review the resources made available by The Heart Foundation.

Contact us

Contact us today to find out if cardio-oncology is right for you
Make and enquiry

Meet our team

Dr Wai-ee Thai

Cardiovascular Imaging Specialist

Special clinical interest in cardio-oncology and non invasive cardiac imaging.

Dr Ben Fitzgerald

Cardiovascular Imaging Specialist

Special clinical interest in cardio-oncology, non invasive cardiac imaging, transoesophageal echocardiography (TOE) and heart failure.

Dr Peter Purnell

Cardiovascular Imaging Specialist

Special clinical interest in cardio-oncology and non invasive cardiac imaging.

A/Prof Jaya Chandrasekhar

Interventional Cardiologist

Special interest in cardio-oncology, coronary intervention, transcatheter aortic valve therapies, complex PCI and pharmacotherapy regimens for ACS and atrial fibrillation.

Prof David Playford

Cardiovascular Imaging Specialist

Special clinical interests in cardio-oncology, general cardiology, cardiac risk assessment, breathlessness and pulmonary hypertension, heart failure and valvular heart disease.

Dr Jason Kaplan

Cardiologist

Special clinical interest in cardiac imaging, cardio-oncology, preventative cardiology, sports cardiology, lifestyle and dietary management of cardiovascular disease.

Dr Michelle Butler

Cardiologist and Cardiac Imaging Specialist

Special clinical interests in cardio-oncology, non invasive cardiac imaging , management of heart failure, valvular heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and peri-operative medicine.

Dr Rajika Karunadasa

Cardiovascular Imaging Specialist

Special clinical interest in cardio-oncology and non invasive cardiac imaging.

Dr Stefan Buchholz

Cardiovascular Consultant and Imaging Specialist

Special clinical interest in cardio-oncology and non-invasive cardiac imaging.

Dr Daniel Cehic

Chief Medical Officer – Cardiology

In 2017 Daniel became the Chief Medical Officer – Cardiology at GenesisCare. Daniel has developed an active interest in the field of cardio-oncology, the cardiac care of patients undergoing, and after, cancer treatment.

Dr Hermann Wittmer

Cardiovascular Imaging Specialist

Special clinical interest in cardio-oncology, non invasive cardiac imaging, heart Failure management, invasive Cardiac Imaging (TOE) and Adult Congenital Heart Disease.

Dr Peter Dias

Cardiologist

Special clinical interest in cardio-oncology, heart failure, echocardiography and general cardiology.

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