Monday, October 11, 2010


Over the weekend in my reading, I came across an article telling us that since last year, a new medical discipline has been born, called CARDIONCOLOGY. This idea was first formulated at a meeting of oncologist last year in Milan Italy. The scientist there found that there is a great need for oncologist to be familiar with the workings of the cardiovascular system, as many of the oncologist drugs have cardiac side effects, which ultimately limit their use. In the good old days, it was only adriamycin. I remember those days, whenever " hematologist " ( in those days, there were no oncologist yet ) were going to use adriamycin, they will let one of us know, and we will get an ECG and echocardiogram done, before they started their adriamycin, so that we can monitor them. Every now and then, one of the patients will go into heart failure, or develop some ECG changes, while on adriamycin, and we would have to try and get them stabilised.
Obviously, now adays, cancers are very common and oncologist are in great demand. ( By the way, they are one of the highest earners. They are not cheap ). With good treatment, cancer victims survive much longer and better now. That gives them time to develop cardio-toxicity, and so the need for cardioncologist. I dare say, most, if not all the inti-cancer drugs have cardiac side-effects, either primarily, on their own, or because of accelerated atherosclerosis, which may be an unintended side effects of chemotherapy.
However, although we are good at creating names and disciplines, there are yet no training program for these specialist, so it is very much, learning on the job, ( with some guidance from seniors, I suppose ). In the end, I hope that the founding of this new specialty will help patients live longer and better. Of course, there is a cost to pay. As I keep saying, modern healthcare cannot be cheap. Living longer and better has a price.

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