If you have a heart problem before cancer treatment

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.

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

  • heart tests before, during or after cancer treatment
  • other treatments to control the heart problem.

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 so that 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 clinical nurse specialist about any worries you have – they should have access to your test results and medical notes.

If you have an implanted electronic device

Some people have an electrical device placed under the skin near the heart. It is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms. There are several types of device, including pacemakers and 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.

I had to deal with my heart condition before I could continue cancer treatment. It was an anxious time, but my teams worked together to do what was best.


Back to Cancer treatment and your heart

Tests to check heart health

There are several tests your doctors can use to check your heart function before, during and after treatment.