Adriamycin cardiotoxicity: a survey of 1273 patients

C. Praga, G. Beretta, P. L. Vigo, G. R. Lenaz, C. Pollini, G. Bonadonna, R. Canetta, R. Castellani, E. Villa, C. G. Gallagher, H. von Melchner, M. Hayat, P. Ribaud, G. De Wasch, W. Mattsson, R. Heinz, R. Waldner, K. Kolaric, R. Buehner, W. Ten Bokkel-HuyninckN. I. Perevodchikova, L. A. Manziuk, H. J. Senn, A. C. Mayr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Valuable information was collected on the medical history and clinical course of 1273 patients entered in clinical trials with Adriamycin (ADR) carried out in 12 European cancer centers. A coded patient form was used for the data collection carried out in each center by a qualified physician following a guideline which was discussed and accepted by all of the participants. The aim of the study was to define the incidence, characteristics, and possible co-factors of the cardiomyopathy (CMP) in patients treated with combination chemotherapy regimens including ADR. The mean total dose of ADR was 268 mg/m 2 (range, 15-1251 mg/m 2), and 5.1% of the patients received a total dose of > 550 mg/m 2. A 'definite' ADR-related CMP was observed in 1.7% of the cases; another 3% of the cases were reported as 'possible' ADR-CMP since the role played by the drug could not be clearly defined. 'Definite' ADR-CMP was fatal in eight patients (0.6%) while 'possible' ADR-CMP was fatal in 13 patients (1.0%). Among the possible co-factors examined, the following ones were found to be significantly associated with the occurrence of a 'defininte' ADR-CMP: (a) total dose of ADR; (b) vincristine when given both before and concomitantly with ADR; (c) bleomycin when given before ADR; and (d) radiotherapy to the mediastinum when given concomitantly with ADR. Furthermore, none of 182 patients receiving ADR by slow infusion developed a 'definite' ADR-CMP, while 2% of the patients treated by bolus injection did so. The occurrence of a 'possible' ADR-CMP was found to be significantly associated with two pre-existing pathologic conditions (electrocardiogram [ECG] abnormalities and hypertension) but not with the treatment-related co-factors for the 'definite' ADR-CMP mentioned above. Other variables examined, such as sex, age, cancer type, baseline liver function, and cyclophosphamide treatment, did not seem to influence the risk of ADR-CMP. Data on ECG changes occurring during ADR treatment were also reported and their incidence was found to be strictly related to the frequency of the ECG monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-834
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Treatment Reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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