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Heart, Kidneys, Liver and Lung Function

Some cancer treatments can affect the function of major organs like the heart, kidneys, liver and lungs. Your doctor monitors you closely for any adverse effects.


Some chemotherapy or other drugs can affect your heart. If cancer treatments are combined, such as chemotherapy with immunotherapies or other biological agents, they may be more likely to affect your heart. The effect may be temporary, but sometimes it may be permanent. Your doctor may test your heart function with an electrocardiogram (ECG) or another test(s) before each treatment session.


Many drugs are excreted through the kidneys. If you have preexisting kidney damage or impaired kidney function, you may need modified doses of drugs. Your doctor will order blood tests to assess kidney function before starting therapy to determine whether a lower dose is needed.


If you have preexisting liver disease, you may need your doses reduced for drugs that are metabolized in the liver or excreted into the bile. Some anticancer agents may be toxic to the liver. Your doctor may test your blood periodically to assess your liver function and look for possible damage.


Some chemotherapy or other cancer drugs can affect your lungs and breathing. The effects may happen gradually over months or years. If you're taking drugs that are likely to cause lung problems, your doctor will check your lung function during and after your treatment. Let your doctor know if you feel breathless. He or she can give you information about coping with shortness of breath.

last updated on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

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