Study Aiming to Predict Cardiac Risk in Breast Cancer Patients Supported by Florida Breast Cancer Foundation Grant

ameliorating cardiac mortality in breast cancer patientsThanks to modern chemotherapy, gene-targeted therapy, and radiation therapy, there are now over 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Each of these treatments, however, may carry an increased risk for major cardiac events and early cardiac death.

Fortunately, UF single-institution data indicate that declines in heart function during treatment can be detected through advanced analysis of heart function based on 3D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The Florida Breast Cancer Foundation has awarded a $99,450 grant to a team led by Walter O’Dell, PhD and Karen Dailey, DO (Co-Principal Investigators), along with Co-Investigators Ellen Keeley, MD; Paul Okunieff, MD; Coy Heldermon, MD, PhD and Julie Bradley, MD, who will investigate the application of cardiac magnetic resonance imaging for early detection of cancer-treatment-induced heart injury and the prediction of cardiac risk early during treatment.

The overall goal of the grant, entitled “Towards ameliorating cardiac mortality in breast cancer patients,” is to show that decline in heart function during and soon after cancer treatment is measurable. This will enable clinicians to identify patients with an elevated risk for cardiac events early in follow-up.

Early intervention with conventional heart failure therapies can improve survival in the majority of affected patients. If severe heart toxicity can be detected early enough, a patient’s treatment can be altered to spare the heart further injury. Most radiation therapy-related cardiac events occur more than 5 years after a breast cancer diagnosis, providing a unique opportunity to study the onset and progression of cardiac dysfunction associated with treatment and potentially provide early intervention for affected patients.

For more information about the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, visit


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