Ted Rogers Centre initiative helping take care of the hearts of Princess Margaret Cancer survivors


Undergoing cancer treatment can have unexpected and adverse effects on a patient’s heart but a new initiative at the Ted Rogers Centre aims to help survivors get the proper follow-up care and support.

A post on the centre’s official site indicates there are at least 800,000 people who have survived cancer – a figure expected to double by 2021 – and these individuals will need a different kind of care following their treatment.  

The centre has created Canada’s largest program on cardiotoxicity, which treats the after-effects of cancer as well as other chronic illnesses, and is working first with patients at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. 

Dr. Dinesh Thavendiranathan, who is leading the program, says patients aren’t always aware of the potential long-term side effects of chemotherapy and he hopes they can provided this additional support. 

“We know patients are worried about cancer, and now they have to worry about cardiovascular complications. We know this is a sensitive area. As cardiologists, we want not to alarm patients but rather be partners in their care, to help complete their cancer therapy,” he says. 

As well as side effects that can occur following treatment, Thavendiranathan adds they also treat patients who are at risk of developing heart failure or who have had to stop cancer treatment because they’ve developed a heart dysfunction.

“We try to step in and help them understand cancer and heart disease, to put both in perspective. We ultimately might suggest that their energy is better spent focusing on fighting cancer, and that we will support them through the cardiac part of that journey.”

Thavendiranathan says cardio-oncology is a relatively new area and he hopes they can help be a leader and eventually predict which patients might be at risk.

“This field is growing now throughout the world,” he says. “We have an opportunity to lead in that growth and provide direction in many ways.”

The story first appeared at The Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research.