Neuromodulation of Cardiovascular Risks Associated With Cardiotoxic Chemotherapy: A First-in-Human Randomized Pilot Study. Neuromodulation in Cancer Study (NCAN)

June, 06, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Cardiotoxic chemotherapy is used to treat malignancies such as breast cancer and lymphoma. These treatments predispose patients to cardiotoxicity that can lead to cancer treatment-related cardiac dysfunction (CTRCD). The use of high doses of anthracyclines or in combination with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 antagonists is associated with a progressively higher risk of CTRCD. CTRCD is preceded by increased activation of the sympathetic nervous system and abnormal left ventricular mechanical deformation as measured by abnormal global longitudinal strain (GLS). Low-level tragus stimulation (LLTS) is a new, safe, noninvasive technique that offers great potential to reduce increased sympathetic activation and improve GLS. Here, we describe a study method to examine the effects of LLTS on autonomic balance and cardiac function in breast cancer or lymphoma patients treated with anthracyclines.


A first-in-human pilot, randomized, double-blind feasibility study will evaluate 104 patients (age >50 y) with breast cancer or lymphoma who receive anthracyclines with one additional CTRCD risk factor. Patients undergo 2 weeks of LLTS daily (1 h/d). Autonomic balance will be measured using heart rate variability metrics. Strain imaging using GLS will be performed pre and post-LLTS. Endothelial inflammation and oxidative stress measures will be performed using in vitro assays at baseline and after 2 weeks.


We hypothesize that LLTS stabilizes sympathovagal imbalance and improves cardiac performance in anthracycline-treated patients with breast cancer or lymphoma.

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