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Cardio-Oncology clinic brings care to outpatients

Published on Wednesday, May 26, 2021

By: Cynthia Wall,

Brandon Lennep

Dr. Brandon Lennep has been named to head the UMMC Cancer Center and Research Institute Cardio-Oncology Clinic at its Jackson Medical Mall outpatient facilities.

Lennep is a University of Mississippi Medical Center assistant professor of cardiology.

Stephanie Elkins

“We are delighted to have this service to offer to our patients,” said Dr. Stephanie Elkins, head of the UMMC Division of Hematology/Oncology. “It will allow us to evaluate and intervene, hopefully, before any cardiac toxicity can occur from our medications.  The cardiology group also helps us optimize patients with known cardiac problems to receive their treatments.”

Dr. Craig Long, associate professor of medicine, who helped establish the program, said the clinic focuses on:

  • Patients who have cardiac issues when they are diagnosed with cancer. “These can be ongoing issues or a history of cardiac disease that might impact their oncologic care,” he said.
  • Patients who have risk factors for cardiac disease that need to be managed.
  • Patients who are receiving cancer therapy that is potentially cardiotoxic. “We can help monitor them and intervene as indicated,” he said.

Some therapies used to treat cancer, including some chemotherapies, immunotherapies, targeted therapies and chest radiation, may harm the heart.  By using echocardiography, or an ultrasound of the heart also called an echo, along with labs and other imaging techniques, the teams can monitor heart function and status.

Ideally, if doctors know the therapy may affect the heart, they can order a baseline echocardiogram before treatment begins and at intervals during treatment, Lennep said. If the echocardiogram reveals a problem, doctors have a chance to alter cancer therapy or start treatments aimed at protecting the heart so cancer therapy doesn’t have to be altered.

He said the field is new and learning about new drugs and possible side effects is ongoing.

Eventually, he said, he hopes to participate in research at UMMC that helps advance the field. “This is going to be a fruitful field in cardio oncology,” Lennep said.  

Craig Long

Long agrees. “It also will provide opportunities for research on this unique patient population who have typically been excluded from cardiovascular clinical trials,” he said.

Lennep completed his general cardiology fellowship and spent a month at Washington University in St. Louis working in its cardio-oncology clinic.

“I’ve been very pleased with the growth of our clinic over the past year,” Lennep said. “This collaboration between our Cardiology and Hematology/Oncology divisions allows us to deliver high-quality cardiovascular care in a setting which reduces stress on a heavily-burdened patient population while promoting open communication between doctors.”

Placing the clinic in the CCRI’s largest outpatient setting also means patients do not have to travel to another campus for an echocardiogram.

“It’s been rewarding to see our patients with heart disease receiving the best possible cancer treatments, and even more rewarding to hear those patients express their gratitude for what we are doing,” he said.