Training course launched for rural doctors for heart issues in cancer treatment

Cai Wenjun
Medical experts in the city have launched a training course for doctors, with a focus on rural areas, spreading awareness of potentially fatal heart issues during cancer treatment.
Cai Wenjun

Top medical experts in the city launched a training course for doctors from all over the nation to promote awareness of heart damage during immunotherapy for cancer patients, to enhance clinical capability, especially in rural regions.

Nearly 100 doctors in oncology, respiration and cardiology participated in the course launched by Zhongshan Hospital, which sponsored the expenses for eight rural doctors from Inner Mongolia, Guangxi and Xinjiang.

Cancer has become an important public health issue in China, which sees over 10,000 new cases each day and nearly 40 percent are from rural areas.

"With medical development, immunotherapy featured by Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor (ICI) therapy has received encouraging results. However, the cardiotoxicities caused by the therapy also alert doctors. Our training course will mainly focus on the diagnosis and treatment of ICI-related myocarditis," said Dr Cheng Leilei from Zhongshan Hospital's cardio-oncology team, which helps patients facing heart problems caused by cancer treatment, and tries to balance cancer treatment with reducing the adverse cardiovascular effects.

Though the incidence of myocarditis in patients treated with ICI therapy is only 0.06 to 3.8 percent, it has a high mortality rate of 40 to 66 percent.

"So it's not an exaggeration that some cancer patients are killed by heart problems. It is essential to provide comprehensive management on heart complications during anti-cancer treatment, especially cancer patients with cardiovascular disease," said Cheng, whose hospital introduced the East China's first outpatient clinic offering combined treatment to patients with both cancer and heart problems since 2018.

The training course will provide education on clinical practice, basic research and medicine application and knowledge on the prevention, monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of ICI-related myocarditis, doctors said.

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