Healthy Heart

Are There Benign and Malignant Tumors of the Heart?

Are There Benign and Malignant Tumors of the Heart?

It is a well-known fact that in the body, in various tissues due to various reasons, neoplasms sometimes appear in the form of tumor growths. The heart is not an exception. The tumor growth can be benign and malignant. Therefore, there are two types of the heart tumors.

Benign tumors

These do not metastasize in the neighboring organs, however reaching impressive sizes, or changing the structure of the myocytes (building breaks of the heart wall) can interrupt their work.

  • Hamartoma of mature cardiomyocytes ("Myocardial disorder"), simulating the focal hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This tumor affects the myocardial contractility, and might become the reason for arrhythmias when the conduction system is compromised.
  • Rhabdomyoma of adults is usually located intramurally in the myocardium of the atria and protrudes into the cavity of the latter one, which leads to insufficient work of the heart. There is no data regarding tuberous or sclerosis of the myocardium.
  • Myofibroblast inflammatory tumor (plasma cell granuloma, inflammatory pseudotumor) probably can not be considered a true neoplasm. These formations are very rarely found in the heart. In the pathological process they may be involved in any portion of the endocardium, although ventricular failure mostly noted. The tumor can grow as large as 8 cm, leading to the malfunction of the organ.

Can I die from the benign tumors of the heart?

There is less of a chance to die from the tumor itself, but the complication associated with the interference in the heart work might become severe, so much so that they can cause a life threat (heart blocks, defect of valves etc).

Is there any treatment?

Most benign tumors have asymptomatic course, and they are usually found accidentally. The treatment depends on the size and intensity of their growth, the area affected, and clinical manifestations of their presence in the heart.

Malignant tumors

Of primary malignant cardiac tumors, sarcoma of the heart and occasionally lymphoma are most frequently found.

Primary malignant tumors account for 25% of the total number of primary tumor lesions of the heart.


Sarcoma may occur at any age but is most often between the ages of 30-years-old and 50-years-old, with equal frequency in women and men. The tumor affects mainly the right side of the heart, proceeding, as a rule, from the endocardial or pericardial part. Primary cardiac sarcoma may cause occlusion of the valve opening and outlet sections of the ventricles, squeeze and grow in coronary vessels, large arteries and veins.

It is characterized by rapid invasive growth, grows all the layers of the heart and nearby organs, as well as quickly and extensively metastasizes to the lungs, mediastinum, tracheobronchial, and retroperitoneal lymph nodes, adrenal glands, the brain.

There are three types of sarcoma of the heart:

  • Angiosarcoma - the most common variety, is 33% of the primary malignant tumors. In men, it occurs in two to three times more often than women. The tumor can affect any of the heart chambers, the most common - the right atrium.
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma is due to cardiac striated muscle tissue occurs at any age, more often in men, 20% of all primary malignant cardiac tumors.
  • Fibrosarcoma is a mesenchymal tumor has 10% occurrence of all primary malignant cardiac tumors. It is found in both sexes at any age.

Secondary cardiac tumors

Secondary cardiac tumors are frequently metastasis from the malignant tumors of the breast, lung, stomach, kidney, and sometimes thyroid. Secondary heart tumors are 25 times more likely to the primary.

Metastatic tumors

Metastatic tumors of the heart are found several times more often than the primary tumors. Since life expectancy of patients with various forms of cancer is increased due to the more effective treatment, there is the reason to expect that the frequency of metastasis to the heart increases as well.

Although metastasis to the heart can be observed in all types of tumors with a frequency of 1% to 20%, the probability of such metastasis is especially high in malignant melanoma, leukemia, and lymphoma (in descending order). In absolute terms, metastases to the heart are more common in breast cancer, and lung, which reflects the highest prevalence of these tumors.

Metastases in the heart most often occur in the background of the developed clinical picture of the underlying disease, usually have primary or metastatic lesions anywhere in the chest cavity. However, sometimes metastasis to the heart may be the first manifestation of a tumor localization.

 Who treats tumors of the heart?

Cardiologists and oncologists (a doctor who is qualified in different cancers).

 What are the symptoms of the malignant heart tumors?

  • Prolonged little fever
  • Weight loss
  • Gradually increasing weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Various rashes on the trunk and extremities
  • Numbness of fingers and toes
  • Chronic heart failure symptoms gradually may emerge, such as a distinguishing shape of the fingers - drumsticks (weight loss of fingers and thickening of the ends), nail changes in an "hour glass" form
  • Changes in blood tests.

 Is there any treatment for malignant tumors of the heart?

Usually, it is a symptomatic treatment. Surgical treatment of the vast majority of patients with primary malignant tumors of the heart is ineffective due to the fact that by the time of diagnosis there has already been a significant spread of the tumor in the myocardium and the surrounding organs and tissues.

Most often, radiation therapy with systemic chemotherapy with or without that allows you to temporarily reduce the clinical severity of the disease and in some cases increase the life expectancy of up to 5 years after the beginning of the treatment.

What is the prognosis?

It is not as promising. When the diagnosis of cardiac sarcoma is established, 80% of patients have already had metastases. Usually, patients die within 6 to 12 months after the onset of clinical symptoms.

The primary malignant tumors of the heart (sarcomas) are aggressive but rarely detected.

Timely consultation with your doctor could prolong your life and well being.