Breast Cancer Treatment and Your Heart

Cardiotoxicity from HER2-targeted therapies often has no symptoms and lasts for a short time.

Finding out that you have breast cancer can be overwhelming. As a person newly diagnosed with the condition, you may have several questions. A common concern relates to cancer treatments and their side effects: How will they impact your life over the following days, months and years?

Breast cancer treatment depends on the type of breast cancer you have as well as the stage, or progression, of the disease. Often, breast cancer treatment will involve a combination of different therapies:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Targeted therapies

About 20% of patients diagnosed with breast cancer will have a specific type of tumor called HER2-positive breast cancer (breast tumors with high levels of a protein called human epidermal growth factor 2, or HER2). Treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer involves medications that target HER2, also called HER2-targeted therapies.

Ask your provider about the HER2 status of your tumor and whether HER2-targeted therapy is an option for you. Use this condition center to learn more about targeted therapy for breast cancer and how it can affect your heart.


Published: February 2018
Author: Roberta Florido, MD
Medical Reviewers: Debra Madden, BA; Karen Lisa Smith, MD, MPH

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.

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