The optimal management of cancer in patients with severe heart failure is not defined. This issue is particularly challenging when a diagnosis of limited-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is made incidentally in the context of evaluating patient for candidacy for cardiac transplantation. Limited-stage SCLC is typically managed on a curative therapeutic paradigm with combined modality approach involving chemotherapy and radiation. Even with excellent performance status and good organ function, the presence of severe cardiomyopathy poses significant challenges to the delivery of even single modality approach with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, let alone the typical curative combined modality approach. With mechanical left ventricular devices to provide cardiac support, treatment options for cancer in the setting of advanced heart failure may be improved. Here we discuss the therapeutic dilemma involving a patient with severe cardiomyopathy and left ventricular assistant device (LVAD) who was found to have limited-stage SCLC during the evaluation process for cardiac transplantation.
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