The care for patients with cancer has advanced greatly over the past decades. A combination of earlier cancer diagnosis and greater use of traditional and new systemic treatments has decreased cancer-related mortality. Effective cancer therapies, however, can result in short- and long-term comorbidities that can decrease the net clinical gain by affecting quality of life and survival. In particular, cardiovascular complications of cancer treatments can have a profound effect on the health of patients with cancer and are more common among those with recognized or unrecognized underlying cardiovascular diseases. A new discipline termed cardio-oncology has thus evolved to address the cardiovascular needs of patients with cancer and optimize their care in a multidisciplinary approach. This review provides a brief introduction and background on this emerging field and then focuses on its practical aspects including cardiovascular risk assessment and prevention before cancer treatment, cardiovascular surveillance and therapy during cancer treatment, and cardiovascular monitoring and management after cancer therapy. The content of this review is based on a literature search of PubMed between January 1, 1960, and February 1, 2014, using the search terms cancer, cardiomyopathy, cardiotoxicity, cardio-oncology, chemotherapy, heart failure, and radiation.
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