Hearing a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. If your child has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment, they may be at increased risk for developing premature cardiovascular disease. At the St. Louis Children’s and Washington University Cardio-Oncology Clinic, our specialists provide early cardiac intervention for patients at risk for developing cardiovascular issues. We also evaluate and treat cancer survivors who show cardiac dysfunction.
What is Cardio-Oncology?
Cardio-oncology is a specialty that evaluates and manages your child’s heart health from the initial cancer diagnosis through their treatment and care.
Over the last several years, the treatment and cure rates for patients diagnosed with cancer have improved. However, these life-saving therapies can cause side effects to other organs, including the heart and vascular system.
When the medication used for cancer treatment damages the heart, it’s called cancer-treatment-related cardiotoxicity (CTC). While this condition can happen during cancer treatment, complications can also appear many years after treatment finishes.
Approach to Care
Our specialists know the importance of early heart care for children facing cancer, and our Cardio-Oncology Clinic coordinates the complex needs of your child to improve their quality of care. Because chemo and radiation therapies can affect every child differently, we assess each child undergoing treatment for potential heart health risks. Then, our cardio-oncology specialists work alongside your child’s oncology team to provide close monitoring with testing, imaging and treatment options to limit potential cardiac damage for those who are at higher risk.
If your child is at home, we also keep in close contact through telehealth visits (if you cannot visit the Clinic) to help monitor medication, blood pressure and heart function.
When the cancer is in remission, we continue long-term monitoring with annual heart check-ups to identify early signs of heart issues and suggest treatments to prolong heart function if issues arise. At St. Louis Children’s Hospital, our doctors offer care to treat and help manage heart conditions so that your child can live a healthy life.
Services We Provide
With the largest pediatric heart team in the St. Louis area, we are dedicated to high-quality and compassionate care for children who may be at risk for heart disease. In addition, we provide monitoring and other services to reduce the chance of premature cardiovascular disease, including:
- Screening blood work
- Advanced imaging techniques
- Minimizing cardiotoxic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments
- Annual heart check-ups
- Heart disease prevention measures
- Stress lab testing
The Clinic also offers other services, from nutritional counseling and social services to mental health support. The goal of our multi-disciplinary team approach is to support the whole child and family, helping them know that they are not facing a cancer diagnosis alone.
Conditions We Treat
At the Cardio-Oncology Clinic, our team specializes in evaluating and monitoring children before, during and after cancer treatment for cardiovascular issues. Some of the conditions we treat are:
- Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart’s muscle)
- Arrhythmia (an abnormal heart rate or rhythm)
- Heart failure (when the heart doesn’t pump enough blood for the body’s needs)
- Late effects of chest radiation therapy
Cardio-Oncology: Why Choose Us?
At St. Louis Children’s Hospital, we are dedicated to providing the best possible care at every stage of cancer treatment. The doctors in our Cardio-Oncology Clinic are part of the multi-disciplinary team that includes specialists in pediatric oncology, cardiology, nutrition and social work. We are also known for:
- Extensive experience in treating complex conditions.
- Advanced imaging technology to identify and track disease progression.
- Family-centered care and support that puts your child’s comfort first with the goal of getting children and families back to normal.
Meet the Experts
Our Cardio-Oncology Clinic has a world-class team of oncologists and multi-disciplinary pediatric specialists who are experts in caring for children with cancer. We are dedicated to providing you and your child with the best care during and after their cancer treatment.