ECG scoring for the evaluation of therapy-naïve cancer patients to predict cardiotoxicity


  • J. Pohl
  • R.I. Mincu
  • S.M. Mrotzek
  • R. Wakili
  • A.A. Mahabadi
  • S.K. Potthoff
  • J.T. Siveke
  • U. Keller
  • U. Landmesser
  • T. Rassaf
  • M.S. Anker
  • M. Totzeck


  • Cancers


  • Cancers 13 (6): 1197


  • OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a new electrocardiographic (ECG) score reflecting domains of electrical and structural alterations in therapy-naïve cancer patients to assess their risk of cardiotoxicity. METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis of 134 therapy-naïve consecutive cancer patients in our two university hospitals concerning four ECG score parameters: Contiguous Q-waves, markers of left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy, QRS duration and JTc prolongation. Cardiotoxicity was assessed after a short-term follow-up (up to 12 months). RESULTS: Of all the patients (n = 25), 19% reached 0 points, 50% (n = 67) reached 1 point, 25% (n = 33) reached 2 points, 5% (n = 7) reached 3 points and 0.7% reached 4 or 5 points (n = 1 respectively). The incidence of cardiotoxicity (n = 28 [21%]) increased with the ECG score, with 0 points at 0%, 1 point 7.5%, 2 points 55%, 3 points 71% and ≥3 points 50%. In the ROC (Receiver operating curves) analysis, the best cut-off for predicting cardiotoxicity was an ECG score of ≥2 points (sensitivity 82%, specificity 82%, AUC 0.84, 95% CI 0.77-0.92, p < 0.0001) which was then defined as a high-risk score. High-risk patients did not differ concerning their age, LV ejection fraction, classical cardiovascular risk factors or cardiac biomarkers compared to those with a low-risk ECG score. CONCLUSION: ECG scoring prior to the start of anti-cancer therapies may help to identify therapy-naïve cancer patients at a higher risk for the development of cardiotoxicity. SIMPLE SUMMARY: Due to improved survival upon effective anti-cancer therapies, the management of treatment-related side-effects is of increasing interest and importance. Cardiovascular side-effects of chemo-, targeted- and/or immunotherapies are common and can be harmful. To date, the identification of patients who could experience those cardiovascular side-effects prior to the anti-cancer therapy start is difficult. We show that the use of a simple electrocardiographic (ECG) score can help to predict the occurrence of cardiovascular toxicity of anti-cancer therapies.