The History of the International Cardio-Oncology Society

Learn how far Cardio-Oncology and IC-OS have come.


The Origins of Cardio-Oncology

Oncologists were the first to observe cardiovascular (CV) complications from cancer treatments in the 1970s when their patients began to develop cardiac dysfunction or heart failure, especially after the use of anthracyclines, which were very effective at treating cancer. These patients were referred to cardiologists when the cardiac disease interfered with their cancer treatments. It quickly became apparent that a more proactive approach could detect the early phases of CV toxicity and potentially reduce complications such as heart failure.



Early 2000s

Inaugural Event

In the early 2000s, medical professionals became acutely aware of CV toxicity complicating cancer therapy after clinicians began combining anti-HER2 targeted breast cancer treatment with anthracycline chemotherapy. These combination therapies were broadly applied for the treatment of breast cancer, and physicians noticed a rapid rise in the development of heart failure for these patients. These serious adverse cardiac events sparked a worldwide collaboration among clinical researchers to understand CV toxicity in patients with cancer at a much deeper level.

As cancer treatments continued to evolve, and survival rates for patients improved, the longer-term risk of CV toxicity was recognized as a critically important consideration. The need became clear for a clinical partnership between cancer therapy experts and CV specialists, and the discipline of cardio-oncology emerged. Characterized as a vital collaboration between oncologists, hematologists, and cardiologists, as well as other supportive healthcare professionals, the mission of cardio-oncology is to eliminate CV disease as a barrier to effective cancer treatment.


The Birth of IC-OS

In September of 2009, the founders of IC-OS met as a group for the first time in Milan, Italy, when more than 100 international experts attended the International Cardio-Oncology Congress. During this meeting, participants established goals for the discipline: to build a community focused on cardio-protection, to enhance survivorship care, to define predictors of cardiotoxicity, and to detect and treat cardiovascular events with personalized interventions. IC-OS was co-founded by Dan Lenihan, MD and Carlo Cipolla, MD, during this meeting, in cooperation with many others, to raise awareness for CV toxicity in patients receiving cancer treatment and to encourage strategic partnerships.

In early 2010, at a conference held by the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Cardio-Oncology program, Dr. Lenihan, and Eric Harrison, MD, first met and bonded over a shared passion to proactively assist oncology and hematology practitioners in protecting the CV status of patients.

The nonprofit entity in the US was later established in Tampa, Florida, by Dr. Lenihan and Dr. Harrison. The vision of IC-OS was to foster partnerships to enhance the CV care provided to patients undergoing treatment of cancer. These three founding members (Drs. Cipolla, Harrison, and Lenihan) tasked themselves with forging a unified organization to raise awareness and establish principal guidelines and credentials for experts in this newly-formed discipline. Shortly after IC-OS was founded, tremendous interest in cardio-oncology began to emerge in the US, Italy, Britain, Canada, Spain, and many other countries and regions.

Since that pivotal meeting, IC-OS has grown to encompass over 1,000 members from more than 30 countries that come together each year for an annual international IC-OS meeting known as the Global Cardio-Oncology Summit (GCOS). Susan Dent, MD, the current president of IC-OS, spearheaded the growth and development of this annual summit. The growth and reach of GCOS has dramatically expanded, with previous meetings held in Nashville, US; Florence, Italy; Vancouver, Canada; Rome, Italy; London, England; Tampa, US; Kraków, Poland; São Paulo, Brazil; Toronto, Canada; Philadelphia, US; Toronto, Canada; and most recently Madrid, Spain.


The Current State of Affairs

IC-OS collaborates with global leaders in hematology, oncology, and cardiology, developing and promoting cutting-edge resources and research. With over 50 academic institutions and practices across the US now integrating cardio-oncology into their medical curriculums and with a European proposal to formalize an international curriculum, IC-OS expects a continued rise in the implementation of cardio-oncology strategies in patient care

By reaching and educating subsequent generations of practitioners, IC-OS can model how to provide seamless and coordinated CV care for all patients receiving cancer treatment. The hope is that cardio-oncology will become a natural step in the cancer treatment protocol process. With continued progress in research, drug development, and cardio-protective strategies, it is essential that CV health remains an integral part of the dialog between patients living with cancer and their healthcare providers.

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