Article Abstract

Fluoropyrimidine-induced cardiac toxicity: challenging the current paradigm

Authors: Suparna C. Clasen, Bonnie Ky, Rupal O’Quinn, Bruce Giantonio, Ursina Teitelbaum, Joseph R. Carver


Background: Fluoropyrimidine chemotherapy [5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and capecitabine] are commonly used agents in the treatment of various solid malignancies. However, their use has been limited by cardiac toxicity, presenting as a wide spectrum of asymptomatic (e.g., EKG changes) and symptomatic (e.g., chest pain) manifestations related to coronary vasospasm leading to myocardial ischemia. Historically, patients with suspected coronary vasospasm have been treated with traditional acute ischemic workup and various combinations of anti-anginal therapies. In addition, most patients typically are not rechallenged with fluoropyrimidine after experiencing initial cardiovascular side-effects with resulting interruption of planned chemotherapy regimens.
Methods: We report a case series of 11 consecutive patients in a single-center with suspected fluoropyrimidine-induced coronary vasospasm who were successfully rechallenged with the culprit drug to allow for planned chemotherapy completion. Our protocol utilized rechallenge with bolus infusional regimen of intravenous fluoropyrimidine chemotherapy and oral capecitabine with cardioprotective pretreatment with two calcium blockers and long-acting oral nitrate therapy.
Results: We were successfully able to continue and complete the previously planned first-line chemotherapy regimen for all 11 patients with minimal therapeutic interruption. There have been no cardiac events or evidence of recurrent coronary spasm after completion of therapy with discontinuation of prophylactic medications upon therapy completion.
Conclusions: We report a single-institution experience of successful rechallenge with fluoropyrimidines with careful cardiac monitoring and the combined use of calcium channel blockers and long-acting nitrates. With further study, this algorithm can be used to safely continue fluoropyrimidines, a potentially curative regimen in the treatment of many solid tumors.