Heart Tumors

Primary heart tumors are very rare and they are usually benign. However, their local growth may disrupt the local blood flow and seriously threaten the heart functions. The most typical primary heart tumor is a myxoma. This benign tumor develops from connective tissue from the wall of left heart ventricle.


Note: In addition to benign heart tumors, there exist also much rarer malignant tumors known as sarcomas. Sarcomas develop from connective tissue in various organs including the heart, they behave aggressively and their overall prognosis is very bad. The heart may also become a target for metastases of other tumors but this is also not a very common situation.


The myxoma may be completely asymptomatic for a long time. The symptoms appear when the tumor mass begins to affect the blood flow through the heart. The patient suffers from symptoms of heart failure, i.e. Exertional shortness of breath, swelling of legs, etc. (see the related article).


Patient with symptoms of heart failure seeks medical examination. In addition to the symptoms, the doctor may hear a heart murmur when listening by a stethoscope and the tumorous mass may be found by echocardiography. Imaging methods such a computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the heart may confirm the diagnosis and more precisely evaluate the tumor extent.


The only possible effective method of treatment is cardiosurgical intervention with removal of the tumorous tissue. The tumor tends to recur and therefore it is necessary to monitor the patient regularly in the post-operative period.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Contact: jiri.stefanek@seznam.cz
 Sources: basic text sources