There is a need for comprehensive, objective cardiac evaluation of aging adult survivors of childhood cancer to determine: 1) the prevalence and trajectory of cardiac dysfunction in adulthood, and 2) ideal screening instruments for early detection of late-onset cardiac dysfunction. Eighty percent of children diagnosed with a pediatric malignancy will become 5-year survivors of their cancer, and more than 50% of these survivors received treatment with the anthracycline class of chemotherapeutic agents and/or cardiac-directed radiation therapy (RT). There is a well established association between anthracycline and/or cardiac RT exposure and the development of late-onset cardiotoxicity (>1 year from exposure). However, most published literature reporting this outcome among childhood cancer survivors is limited to clinical cohorts followed for less than 15 years post treatment. As pediatric institutions have been unable to follow childhood cancer survivors into adulthood, the trajectory of cardiac function has not been adequately documented as survivors age. Furthermore, the current standard measure of cardiotoxicity (ejection fraction by echocardiogram) likely detects toxicity late in the natural history of the progression to left ventricular failure. Novel echocardiographic methods for early detection are needed. We propose a cross-sectional study that will compare a novel echocardiographic measure of regional myocardial dysfunction (strain), to traditional echocardiography (ejection fraction) for evaluation of cardiac toxicity in 810 adults treated with anthracycline chemotherapy and/or cardiac-directed RT for childhood cancer and 484 controls. We hypothesize that abnormal strain measures will be more strongly associated with reduced functional capacity (VO2 max) than the standard measure of ejection fraction. A sub-population (n=170) of adults with previous echocardiographic evaluation 10 years prior to this study will be assessed for longitudinal trajectory of cardiac function in adulthood. Longitudinal assessment of this population will provide evidence for the trajectory and rate of cardiac decline in early adulthood, thus providing additional evidence for screening recommendations in this population. Furthermore, this application will validate a novel modality (myocardial strain) for early detection of cardiac toxicity. To date, such a study has not been done because of numerous barriers encountered in long-term retention and assessment of a large cohort of adult survivors by a pediatric cancer institution. The unique resource of the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort, an institutionally funded cohort of >4,000 adult survivors with lifetime follow-up, allows for such a study. Results will provide a foundation for future research using early detection (strain) to target a population for intervention approaches that may prevent heart failure in anthracycline/RT-exposed childhood cancer survivors.
Knowing the longitudinal trajectory of cardiotoxicity in adulthood, and early detection of cardiotoxicity with myocardial strain, will address existing gaps in knowledge and benefit survivors of childhood cancer. Results from this study of treatment-exposed adult survivors of childhood cancer will directly inform: 1) future outcomes research, 2) formulation of clinical care guidelines, including screening practices, and 3) development and testing of intervention strategies.