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herceptin and heart damage

3whitecats
Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 2013

any new information on the relationship of herceptin and possible heart damage?  I have had coronary bypasses and a few other coronary adjustments over the last few years and am concerned with the possiblity of any further damage.  Will be talking with my cardiologist soon, but would like to be a little educated first.  The biospsy results indicate potential positive reaction to the hercepton for my stage 2b EC, but am still not sure if I should add it to my DHC chemo regimen which may start next week.

New to this group, but a bone marrow transplant support group of 15 years ago was a life savior to me as a then caregiver.

thanks

dfd24
Posts: 79
Joined: Mar 2011

hello,

my husband is on herceptin. he had an echocardiogram before starting treatment and is to have one

every three months while on herceptin. the oncologist said the heart damage was reversible though.

all the best,

dainèle

callerid
Posts: 99
Joined: Dec 2012

I had never heard this before. Is it for those who already have heart issues or is it for anyone taking Herceptin?

3whitecats
Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 2013

apparently it is listed as a possible side effect for all users.  So, they call for a MUGA scan or equivalent before and after treatment.  I dunno what the likelyhood is of any impacts.

Deathorglory
Posts: 58
Joined: Jul 2013

I've been taking Herceptin weekly since November 2011 for recurrent EC.  I get echocardiograms once every 3 months or so to monitor for heart problems, but my Doctor isn't especially worried since I'm 46 with no history of cardiac issues.  Herceptin for EC is relatively new, but there's a long track record of folks taking it for breast cancer and the cardiac problems have been at acceptable levels.  I'd suggest if you are HER2+, that you strongly consider the Herceptin.

dfd24
Posts: 79
Joined: Mar 2011

from what we were told and what i've read about herceptin, everyone has to be monitored as heart damage  is a 

possible side effect.  our oncologist said  that If there is heart damage with herceptin it can be reversed.

You should have everything explained so you feel comfortable about taking the herceptin but if the cardiologist says it's ok then there seems to be   a definite advantage to taking herceptin if you are her2 positive. it has revolutionized breast cancer care for people who are her2 positive . 

yours,

danièle

eternalife
Posts: 36
Joined: Apr 2013

My husband was on herceptin briefly, he was diagnosed with stage iv EC, Dec. 2011, he just died 9 days ago after a long and hard fight, several rounds of chemo, radiation , no surgery. I know he is at peace, he became so weak and frail at the end. There was mets to the liver and the lungs in the end stage. To climb a few stairs, he would puff so hard, like he had run a marathon. I could not see him lasting very long once I witnessed that. He became jaundiced as a result of the liver mets.. the liver just shut down... very , very sad . I was with him when he took his last breath. Very happy to have been there, praying and releasing him..

Hugs and prayers to all still in the trenches...

Best

dfd24
Posts: 79
Joined: Mar 2011

dear eternalife,

just read your post. I am very sorry to hear about your husband and my thoughts are with you (even though we don't know each other i understand how hard it is for you).

all the best,

danièle

dfd24
Posts: 79
Joined: Mar 2011

hello 

Had the cardiologist visit this morning. Claude's heart is doing well, no problem from the Herceptin.

this is after three months of treament.

yours,

danièle

3whitecats
Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 2013

well, now two out of three.  My cardiologist said go ahead, possibility of damage is minimal, but recommended a MUGA scan for ejection fraction baseline.  Cardiologist number 2 said whoops, your ejection fraction has decreased over the last couple years since I had a much better fraction a few years back, so lets repeat the test before doing the herception.  Surgeon #1 said to stay away from it.  So, more disucssions with the cardiologists tomorrow.  

Me, I thought we had all the pieces together and was about to start chemo/rad next week.  hopefully I canstart conventional chemo but delay the herceptin until I get some agreement among the heart guys.  Moral of the story of course is to make sure you manage your own treatment as much as possible.  

goty2001
Posts: 71
Joined: Jul 2012

I echo (pun intended) Deathorglory's mail above....been on it 11 months and heart (and all other organs) prefer it to regular chemo

callerid
Posts: 99
Joined: Dec 2012

My husband has been on it for at least 6 months and no one has ever suggested an echo. I'm puzzled

3whitecats
Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 2013

didn't intend to cause concern -- I am 68 and have had a 15 year history of heart disease with bypass surgery etc plus  an ejection fraction below the 55 to 70% normal range. S and trending down. so, unless you have this kind of coronary history, then the side effects of herceptiin can likely be ignored like we usually ignore the other 2-300 other sideeffects they pleasently list for us.  If you are still concerned, an echogram is a noninvasive 15 minute procedure, much like a sonagram.  Skip this one, you no doubt have enough to worry about.

So I have to decide if the added benefits of herceptin for EC outweigh any potential further reduction in my heart pumping efficiency.  Given that an esophagectomy is likely in my near future I tend to favor a stronger heart.   Perhaps a difficult call, but one which would be easier if the cardiologiists would come to some sort of agreement.  

Today is our 37th wedding anniversary -- first things first.

PeteD

callerid
Posts: 99
Joined: Dec 2012

I think I will ask. He has never had heart issues but neither has he ever had it tested. Others seem to agree with you that echo should be done. I know they tell you that Herceptin can affect the heart but never mentioned a test to track those effects.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY .... have a great day

dfd24
Posts: 79
Joined: Mar 2011

yes definitely ask : the first thing our oncologist said is that claude had to have an echocardiogram 

before starting the herceptin and then have one every three months.

danièle

3whitecats
Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 2013

finally got things cleared up re herception and potential heart damage.  the Bottom line, use it.  in my case they got a spurious MUGA result not supported by a 4 point echocardiogram and a gated nuclear stress test.  Both of the latter showed normal heart function (ejection fraction).  

So, two things.  One, have a echocardiogram (non invasive, non radiative) done before and after (and during if you are using herceptin chronically -- and two, don't worry about it if you have a ejection fraction above 50% or so (ie normal).  And three, the MUGA is not the end all measurement some folks think it is...!

Start treatment Monday!!.  finally, movement from the diagnosis stage tothe treatment stage. Gotta love it.

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