5 Interesting Facts About Heart Cancer

5 Interesting Facts About Heart Cancer
5 Interesting Facts About Heart Cancer

Heart cancer, called rhabdomyosarcoma, develops in the soft tissues of the heart. The good news is medical professionals believe heart cancer is rare, affecting less than 0.1 percent of the population. Heart cancer can be further divided in two types depending upon the source of origin of the cancer.

Most heart tumors begin with myxomas, fibromas, rhabdomyomas, and hamartomas, although malignant sarcomas (such as angiosarcoma or cardiac sarcoma) have been known to occur. In a study of 12,487 autopsies performed in Hong Kong seven cardiac tumors were found, most of which were benign.[1] According to Mayo Clinic: "At Mayo Clinic, on average only one case of heart cancer is seen each year."[1] In a study conducted in the Hospital of the Medical University of Vienna 113 primary cardiac tumour cases were identified in a time period of 15 years with 11 being malignant. The mean survival in the latter group of patients was found to be 26.2 ± 9.8 months.

Primary malignant cardiac tumors (PMCTs) are even more rare. A study using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End-Results (SEER) Cancer Registry from 1973–2011 found 551 case of PMCTs, with an incidence of 34 cases per million persons. The study also found that the incidence has doubled over the past 4 decades. The associated mortality was very high, with only 46% of patients alive after one year. Sarcomas and Mesotheliomas had the worst survival, while lymphomas had better survival. When compared with extracardiac tumors, PMCTs had worse survival.

More then 70% of the primary tumors of heart are Myxomas which is nothing but tumor arising from connective tissue of heart, Myxomas are usually located in left and right atrium. Shape of myxomas is pedunculated ie. It have a stalk on which the tumor grows. This stalk is attached to the interatrial septum in fosa ovalis region.
Heart cancer is fist diagnosed by listening to heart sounds. Myxoma produces an extra heart sound which is produced after S2.

Doctor may advise for Echocardiography, in which  it is seen as pedunculated mass which is heterogeneous in appearance. Increase in pulmonary arterial wedge pressure is indication of myxoma of left atrium.

Bening tumors of heart are not so lethal by direct nature but its presence creates problem in electrical signals and flow of blood. There is also a chance of emboli formation due to the tumor. It can be corrected surgically. Malignant Tumors have grave prognosis and person is not expected to live more than 2 years after the diagnosis of the disease.


There are primary malignant cardiac tumors and secondary (metastatic) tumor with origin from other organs. Regarding the primary forms of cardiac cancer, it should be noted:
  1. Mesothelioma. This malignant tumor develops from the pericardium cells. Like other malignant tumors, mesothelioma is able to germinate in the neighboring tissues and metastatic spread (usually in the spine and the brain)
  2. Heart sarcoma. This tumor develops from connective tissue cells. The types of heart sarcomas are secreted angiosarcoma, fibrous histiocytoma, fibrosarcoma, leiomyosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma and undifferentiated heart sarcoma.
  3. Primary heart lymphoma. This is a relatively rare form of lymphoma which occurs mainly in patients with severe immune deficiency (including Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). This is aggressive tumor with rapid growth.


Oncologists continue to study the causes of cells malignant transformation and the occurrence of heart tumors. Despite the fact that nowadays, researchers cannot clearly identify the causes of heart malignant tumors, it has been revealed a genetic predisposition to this disease development. The cause of heart cancer may be hereditary syndromes.


Although heart cancer is not common, symptoms often mimic heart disease, such as irregular heart rhythm, shortness of breath, fatigue or chest pain. These symptoms can occur quickly. Depending on the cell structure and originating source, treatment options for rabdomyosarcoma may include radiation, chemotherapy, surgery or hormone therapy. Doctors carefully match the treatments to each patient’s condition, since some options may damage the heart muscle.


Five interesting facts that you must know about heart cancer those's :
  1. Rhabdomyosarcoma cancer occurs in the muscle tissue of the heart. Sarcoma tumors develop in soft fatty tissues of the body.
  2. The heart is a muscle with few fatty cells encased in a protective membrane. These characteristics usually protect the heart from cancer.
  3. Heart cancer usually originates in other areas of the body, such as the esophagus, liver, stomach or lung. If it enters the heart, metastatic tumors form. Since each cancerous tumor has a unique cell structure, if it spreads, doctors can trace the origin.
  4. Heart cancer usually develops on the right side, since this is where blood enters the muscle.
  5. Nests of leukemia cells also can create tumors in the heart.

References :

A Health teacher and Midwife..

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