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Heart Health

Caring For The Hearts of Cancer Patients — Training in Cardio-Oncology

Caring For The Hearts of Cancer Patients — Training in Cardio-Oncology

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Cardio-oncology is a growing field that aims to prevent or treat cancer patients who face heart problems due to its treatments. With the support of National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS), Asst. Prof. Tan Li Ling pursued training in this area of specialty.

Fellowship in Cardio-Oncology 

I had the privilege of receiving the Health Manpower Development Programme (HMDP) award to pursue a fellowship in cardio-oncology. My training was completed at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, UK under the supervision of Dr. Alexander Lyon, President, British Cardio-Oncology Society.

The Heart and Cancer Connection

Heart disease and cancer are leading causes of mortality in many developed countries including Singapore. It is not surprising that many patients suffer from cancer and heart disease at some point in their lifetime.

Both diseases share similar risk factors. Moreover, advancements in therapies have improved the prognosis of cancer patients - more are cured of cancer and more patients with metastatic disease1 live longer with reasonable quality of life.

Hence, in recent years, there are many patients presenting with long term adverse cardiac complications related to cancer therapies.

Training experience in the UK

The Royal Brompton is located strategically adjacent to the Royal Marsden Hospital which is the a specialist cancer treatment hospital in the UK. Majority of referrals to the cardio-oncology unit are from the Royal Marsden and they fall under the following categories:

1. Cardiac risk assessment before cancer treatment.

2. Cardiac issues during treatment (e.g. heart failure, arrhythmias2, ischaemia3).

3. Cardiac surveillance during cancer survivorship.

With the knowledge and experience gained during my training, I look forward to collaborating with our oncology and haematology colleagues and hope to increase the awareness of this burgeoning specialist field among patients and healthcare professionals.


By Asst. Prof. Tan Li Ling

1Cancer that spreads from its origin to a different part of the body.

2A group of conditions where the heartbeat is irregular, too slow, or too fast.
3Insufficient blood supply to an organ or tissue usually due to the narrowing of blockage of an artery.