Cardiotoxicity after cancer treatment: a process map of the patient treatment journey

Robyn Clark, Tania Marin, Alexandra McCarthy, Julie Bradley, Suchi Grover, Robyn Peters, Christos S Karapetis, John Atherton, Bogda Koczwara

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17 Citations (Scopus)
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Cardiotoxicity is a potential complication of anticancer therapy. While guidelines have been developed to assist practitioners, an effective, evidence based clinical pathway for the treatment of cardiotoxicity has not yet been developed. The aim of this study was to describe the journey of patients who developed cardiotoxicity through the healthcare system in order to establish baseline data to inform the development and implementation of a patient-centred, evidence-based clinical pathway.

Mixed-methods design with quantitative and qualitative components using process mapping at 3 large medical centres in 2 states between 2010 and 2015.

Fifty (50) confirmed cases of cardiotoxicity were reviewed (39 medical record reviews, 7 medical record review and interviews and 4 internview only). The mean age at cancer diagnosis of this group was 53.3 years (range 6–89 years); 50% female; 30% breast cancer, 23% non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; mean chemotherapy cycles 5.2 (median 6; range 1–18); 49 (89%) presented to chemotherapy with pre-existing cardiovascular risk factors; 39 (85%) had at least one modifiable risk factor and 11 (24%) had more than 4; 44 (96%) were diagnosed by echocardiogram and 27 (57%) were referred to a cardiologist (only 7 (15%) before chemotherapy). Post chemotherapy, 22 (48%) patients were referred to a multidisciplinary heart failure clinic; 8 (17%) to cardiac rehabilitation; 1 (2%) to cancer survivorship clinic and 10 (22%) to a palliative care service. There were 16 (34%) deaths during the timeframe of the study; 4 (25%) cardiac-related, 6 (38%) cancer-related, 4 (25%) due to sepsis and 2 (12%) other causes not recorded. The main concerns participants raised during the interviews were cancer professionals not discussing the potential for cardiotoxicity with them prior to treatment, nor risk modification strategies; a need for health education, particularly regarding risks for developing heart failure related to cancer treatment; and a lack of collaboration between oncologists and cardiologists.

Our results demonstrate that the clinical management of cancer patients with cardiotoxicity was variable and fragmented and not patient centered. This audit establishes practice gaps that can be addressed through the design of an evidence-based clinical pathway for cancer patients with, or at risk, of cardiotoxicity
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2019


  • Cardiotoxicity
  • Cardio-oncology
  • Clinical pathway
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Patient centred care


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