Can I have cancer treatment if I have a heart condition?

Not all cancer treatments are suitable for people with heart problems. But this can depend on the type of heart problem and how well-controlled it is. Your cancer doctor will talk to you about this. If a cancer treatment is likely to cause serious problems, they may suggest a different type of treatment.

How do cancer treatments affect the heart?

Different cancer treatments can affect heart health in different ways. Before you have cancer treatment, your cancer doctor will explain possible risks to your heart. We have more information about heart health and treatments including:

  • chemotherapy
  • targeted and immunotherapy
  • radiotherapy
  • hormone therapy
  • surgery.

Planning your cancer treatment

If you are having a cancer treatment that might make a heart problem worse, you may need:

You might need to go to extra appointments before cancer treatment starts. Your cancer doctor may arrange for you to see your cardiologist (heart doctor) for specialist advice about the heart problem. If this delays your cancer treatment, you may feel frustrated or worried. But it is important to get the right information, treatment and advice. This way, you can have the cancer treatment as safely as possible.

You may find it helpful to:

  • know who to contact if you have a question about your cancer treatment, heart problems or test results
  • check what will happen next at the end of each appointment
  • speak to your specialist doctors, GP or nurse specialist about any worries you have – they should have access to your test results and medical notes.

Implanted electronic devices

Some people have an electrical device placed under the skin near the heart. It is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms. These are:

  • pacemakers
  • implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).

Radiotherapy and some types of scans can affect how these devices work. So it is important to tell your healthcare team if you have one. They will plan any scans and treatment to avoid affecting your device. They will also arrange any extra monitoring you need to check your device or adjust its settings.

If new problems develop during treatment

Sometimes cancer treatment can cause new heart problems. These may develop during or soon after cancer treatment. Some problems may develop many years later.

We have information about heart health and cancer that explains how new problems may be managed.

About this information

Our information about heart health and cancer was developed in partnership with the British Heart Foundation.

If you have questions about your heart health, call the Heart Helpline on 0300 330 3311, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or visit bhf.org.uk.