Capecitabine in breast cancer: The issue of cardiotoxicity during fluoropyrimidine treatment

Luisa P. Molteni, Irene Rampinelli, Massimiliano Cergnul, Ugo Scaglietti, Anna M. Paino, Douglas M. Noonan, Eraldo O. Bucci, Ornella Gottardi, Adriana Albini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Capecitabine is an orally available fluoropyrimidine carbamate that selectively delivers fluorouracil (5-FU) to tissues expressing high levels of thymidine phosphorylase (TP) such as tumors. The drug has demonstrated efficacy in metastatic breast cancer, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer. Although these are considered safe drugs, a growing body of literature reports adverse cardiac effects. Clinical trials indicate that capecitabine has a cardiac toxicity similar to that of infused fluoropyrimidines such as 5-FU. Here, we review cardiotoxicity in the use of fluoropyrimidines, with particular attention toward capecitabine. We also describe a severe, reversible cardiac event that occurred in a 39-year-old woman, with no cardiac risk factors, treated with capecitabine for advanced breast cancer. This review and our experience confirm that fluoropyrimidine cardiotoxicity is an infrequent but documented side effect. Oncology patients under treatment should be closely observed and monitored for cardiac symptoms with particular attention in case of signs or symptoms of cardiovascular complications. The implementation of cardio-oncology interdisciplinary teams should, in the future, reduce the impact of cancer treatment-associated cardiotoxicity syndromes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBreast Journal
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


  • breast cancer
  • capecitabine
  • cardiogenic shock
  • cardiotoxicity
  • fluoropyrimidine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Surgery

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