Funded by the Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund
Anthracycline chemotherapy is used to treat over 50% of childhood cancer, and has resulted in improving in survival, such that over 85% of children now survive 5 or more years after a cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, heart failure is an unwanted side-effect of anthracyclines, and is one of the leading causes of death in children cured of their cancer. Childhood cancer survivors are at a 5-15-fold higher risk of serious heart problems compared to the general population. The risk of heart failure increases with anthracycline dose, but the risk differs from child to child. Several studies have looked at the cause of heart failure at the DNA level. However, it is important to take this investigation to the next level, that is, truly understand the basic causes of at heart failure caused by anthracyclines. We propose to do this in a large study across 141 childhood cancer hospitals, where we are collecting blood samples from 300 childhood cancer survivors who have developed heart failure and 300 childhood cancer survivors who did not develop heart failure. We will use this information to get a deeper look at how anthracyclines cause heart failure. We hope that this will help us identify patients at highest risk, providing guidance in developing new ways to prevent and treat this unfortunate complication.