ACC Council Perspective Highlights Growing Importance of Cardio-Oncology Subspecialty

The involvement of cardio-oncologists may enable cancer treatment teams to provide the most effective cancer therapies while minimizing cardiovascular toxicity and improving the health of long-term cancer survivors, according to a perspective from ACC's Cardio-Oncology Leadership Council published Nov. 2 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Jose A. Alvarez-Cardona, MD, FACC, et al., describe the scope of practice in cardio-oncology and the proposed training requirements, as well as the necessary core competencies. They explain that as preexisting and developing cardiovascular diseases pose some of the greatest risks of morbidity and mortality in patients with cancer, the subspecialty continues to require more expert knowledge, specific skills and dedicated training.

The authors note that over the last 15 years, cardio-oncology has begun establishing itself as an independent subspecialty of medicine and has already been recognized by most major cardiology and oncology societies as a distinct specialty area.

Irrespective of the training background, the authors recommend that all providers maintain core knowledge in the cardiovascular toxicities of cancer therapies; cardiovascular risk evaluation before, during and after cancer treatment; and the unique management aspects of cardiovascular disease in patients diagnosed with cancer.

Furthermore, the authors urge that an initial introduction into this topic be present in general fellowship programs, both for cardiology and hematology/oncology. Accordingly, as outlined in the general cardiology and subspecialty disciplines, they propose a level I to III training structure.

On a global scale, the authors explain that while the number of dedicated training programs has been increasing, more widespread attention and standardization is needed. However, cardio-oncology is increasingly represented at every national and international cardiology meeting, and there are currently two dedicated cardio-oncology journals with other journals incorporating cardio-oncology sections.

"This document provides key recommendations to address critical gaps in education and to establish appropriate and consistent expectations for a cardio-oncology-trained provider to meet the growing demand," the authors conclude.

Clinical Topics: Cardio-Oncology

Keywords: Cardio-oncology, Cardiotoxicity, Fellowships and Scholarships, Risk Factors, Cardiology, Medical Oncology, Neoplasms, Hematology

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