Older breast cancer patients who take Herceptin and have a history of heart disease or diabetes should be closely monitored by a cardiologist, according to a small but significant study.
Researchers kept tabs on 45 women ages 70 - 92 as they took the breast cancer drug. Twelve of the women, or 26.7 percent, developed heart problems related to use of the drug. Most of the 12 had a history of heart disease. Once they stopped taking Herceptin, all but one fully recovered from their cardiac problems.
Researchers recommend that women on Herceptin get tested regularly for heart damage, since most of the women in the study showed no symptoms.
Source: Annals of Oncology. 2011: doi:10.1093; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50