Cardio-Oncology: Anti-Angiogenic Therapies and Your Heart

It's important to talk with your doctor about your heart risk factors before starting anti-angiogenic treatment.

Learn About Heart Side Effects

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.


Published: September 2019
Authors: Wendy Bottinor, MD; Carrie Geisberg Lenneman, MD, M.Sc
Medical Reviewers: Debra Madden, BA; Bonnie Ky, MD, MSCE, FACC

These modules were developed in collaboration with the Eastern Cooperative Group—American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ECOG-ACRIN) Cardiotoxicity Working Group and Patient Advocacy Group.

Infographic: Cancer Treatment and Your Heart