A4. Aortic Aneurysm

Cardio-Oncology: Anti-Angiogenic Therapies and Your Heart

To survive and grow, cancer tumors depend on blood vessels supplying oxygen and nutrition. The growth of blood vessels, which is called angiogenesis, also helps cancer tumors spread to other areas of the body. That is why cancer treatment often includes therapies to block the growth of blood vessels. These agents are also known as anti-angiogenic therapies.

Targeted therapies to block growth of new blood vessels include:

  • Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs):These drugs attach and block those proteins that help blood vessels grow.
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs):These drugs block the action of enzymes known as tyrosine kinases, which help cells grow, divide, and send and receive signals.

Monoclonal antibodies and certain tyrosine kinase inhibitors that block the growth of blood vessels are called vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors (VEGF inhibitors).

VEGF inhibitors block the signals causing abnormal growth of blood vessels and to prevent oxygen and nutrients from reaching the cancer cells. At the same time, it is important to know that VEGF inhibitors also can affect healthy cells.

Use this condition center to learn how anti-angiogenic therapies can affect your heart and what you can do to prevent developing heart disease.

Anti-Angiogenic Therapies

Cancers Types Treated

Anti-angiogenic therapies have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat several types of cancers. These therapies work well for solid tumors because solid tumors require blood vessels to bring oxygen and nutrients to the tumor.

Some common cancers treated with anti-angiogenic therapies:

  • Renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer)
  • Glioblastoma (type of cancer in brain or spinal cord)
  • Non-small cell lung cancers
  • Colorectal cancer (colon cancer or rectal cancer)
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer)
  • Gastrointestinal carcinoma (type of cancer in stomach or small intestine)

Anti-angiogenic therapies are also used to treat:

  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Sarcoma
  • Endocrine tumors
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Ovarian epithelial cancers