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Contemporary breast cancer chemotherapy leads to persistent late right ventricular myocardial dysfunction: a prospective multi-centre study


Previous studies evaluating cardiac effects of chemotherapy have focussed on the left ventricle (LV) and largely been retrospective. Although right ventricle (RV) systolic dysfunction is an adverse prognostic marker in cardiomyopathy states, the RV effects of chemotherapy are not well defined.


Thirty six breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (26 anthracyline, 10 tranztumab) underwent serial CMR imaging (for LV and RV volumes/ejection fraction) and echocardiography for tricuspid annular systolic plane excursion (TAPSE) at baseline, 1, 3 and 12 months. RV impairment following chemotherapy was defined as an reduction of CMR RVEF below normal range (defined as 50%)1 and/or an absolute reduction of RVEF of at least 5% from baseline.


Significant changes in CMR volumes and systolic function were observed in both the ventricles (table). Although LV function decreased, EF remained above the lower limit of normal (defined as 57%1) in all patients. RV function changes were of greater magnitude. 23% of patients had significant RV impairment at 3 months and 81% had RV impairment evident at 12 months (as defined above). TAPSE decreased from 23±3 to 21.1±3; p<0.001 at 3 months. Patients that received anthracyclines were more likely to have significant RV impairment at 12 months, p value <0.005.

Table 1 Functional changes following chemotherapy


RV functional changes can be detected both early and late following current chemotherapy regimes using CMR and modern echocardiographic techniques. Although anthracyclines likely causes biventricular dysfunction, in our study they were more likely to cause persistent RV impairment at 12 months. These findings support routine surveillance of RV function in contemporary breast cancer chemotherapy.




  1. Alfaikh, et al: . Eur Radiol. 2004, 14 (10): 1813-22.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Grover, S., DePasquale, C., Srinivasan, G. et al. Contemporary breast cancer chemotherapy leads to persistent late right ventricular myocardial dysfunction: a prospective multi-centre study. J Cardiovasc Magn Reson 15 (Suppl 1), P164 (2013).

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  • Breast Cancer
  • Left Ventricle
  • Anthracyclines
  • Right Ventricle
  • Systolic Dysfunction