Determining Breast Cancer Patients’ Cardiac Risk

Determining Breast Cancer Patients’ Cardiac Risk

Hello BCSC donors and friends,

I am April Chau, currently in my first year of a Medical Biophysics Master’s degree at Western University under the supervision of Dr. Stewart Gaede. I would like to start off my research update with a huge thank you to the generous support I have received from the Breast Society of Canada through the Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit (TBCRU).

April Chau BCSC funded researcherMy first TBCRU update is an introduction to my research, which is assessing acute cardiac inflammation after left-sided breast cancer radiotherapy with hybrid Positron Emission Tomography / Magnetic Resonance Imaging (PET/MRI). Currently, the advancements of radiation therapy in breast cancer treatment increase the lifespan among cured patients after treatment. However, due to limited knowledge of early radiation cardiac effects, radiation toxicity towards the surrounding normal tissue cannot be avoided. This may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease later in a patient’s life.

Using the PET/MRI scanner to image left-side breast cancer patients before and after radiotherapy, we can non-invasively correlate the inflammatory responses to regional radiation dose deposition.

The success of this project can help us understand the mechanism that leads to radiation-induced cardiac damage and determine potential patients’ cardiac risks up to 10-15 years thanks to cardiac function measurements during routine consultations. Long-term side effects of radiation therapy can be potentially minimized.

At this stage, we are currently showing promising results from our models using hybrid PET/MRI corresponding to global cardiac inflammation. Hopefully in next year’s blog, I will have the opportunity to share fruitful results from our current research.

Sincerely, April Chau

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