Measuring left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) before administering doxorubicin-based chemotherapy doesn’t appear to add clinically meaningful information, according to an analysis of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patients.
Current guidelines recommend prescreening with either echocardiography or multiple-gated acquisition (MUGA) scan to identify asymptomatic left ventricular dysfunction before administering doxorubicin-containing chemotherapy, since doxorubicin is known for its cardiotoxicity.
But other studies have challenged the usefulness of routine LVEF screening in DLBCL patients.
In the current study, Deborah L. Enns, PhD, and her colleagues at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle reviewed the medical records of 291 patients diagnosed with DLBCL between 2001 and 2013.
In total, 206 patients with normal LVEF and 8 patients with low LVEF received doxorubicin (P = .006). But while that association appears to support routine prescreening to inform clinical decision making, the link disappeared when the researchers factored out previous cardiac disease (P = .51).
“It is possible that previous [heart failure] may have played a larger role in shaping treatment decisions than did LVEF test results alone,” the researchers wrote. Theis in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes.
In addition, for patients who had their LVEF measured, the researchers found no difference in posttreatment incidence of heart failure based on whether patients received doxorubicin (7.0%) or did not (6.8%). The same was true for patients with LVEF values of less than 50% before treatment (13% vs. 14%).
The researchers noted that there are several reasons why LVEF prescreening may not be needed before treatment in DLBCL. For instance, DLBCL patients typically receive low cumulative doses of doxorubicin. Also, doxorubicin’s high efficacy in DLBCL should be balanced with the relatively low risk of death from heart failure due to doxorubicin treatment, at around 4% after 5 years for patients without preexisting cardiac conditions.
“We recommend that the policy of routinely performing prescreening LVEF measurements in all patients with DLBCL before administering anthracycline-based chemotherapy treatments be reevaluated,” the researchers wrote.
They reported having no competing interests.
SOURCE: Enns DL et al. .