A heart tumor is an abnormal growth in the heart. Tumors in the heart are very rare.
Most heart tumors are benign (not cancer). Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of your body. Some tumors are cancer.
A tumor can block the heart valves, block blood flow, or break off and travel to the brain, where they may cause a stroke.
What is the cause?
The cause of tumors that start in the heart is unknown. Some tumors may be caused by a change in the genes inside each cell of your body. Genes contain the information that tells your body how to develop and work. Genes are passed from parents to children.
Some heart tumors are caused by cancer that has spread from the lung, breast, blood, or skin.
What are the symptoms?
Tumors may make it hard for the heart to work normally. Symptoms may include:
Shortness of breath
Feeling like your heart is racing or fluttering
How is it diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. Tests may include:
X-rays of your chest to check for a tumor
An ECG (also called an EKG or electrocardiogram), which measures and records your heartbeat
Echocardiogram, which uses sound waves (ultrasound) to see how well your heart muscle is pumping
MRI, which uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to show detailed pictures of the heart
CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to show detailed pictures of the heart
How is it treated?
The treatment depends on the type of tumor and the problems it is causing. Possible treatments are:
Surgery to remove the tumor
Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill tumor cells
Chemotherapy (anticancer drugs), which uses medicine to kill tumor cells
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to treat symptoms like tiredness and trouble breathing or a fast or irregular heartbeat.
How can I take care of myself?
Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider.
A healthy lifestyle may also help:
Eat a healthy diet.
Try to keep a healthy weight. If you are overweight, lose weight.
Stay fit with the right kind of exercise for you.
Learn ways to manage stress. Ask for help at home and work when the load is too great to handle. Find ways to relax, for example take up a hobby, listen to music, watch movies, or take walks. Try deep breathing exercises when you feel stressed.
If you smoke, try to quit. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to quit smoking.
If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink.
Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Ask your provider:
How and when you will hear your test results
How long it will take to recover
If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
How to take care of yourself at home
What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-06-10 Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Heart Tumor: References
Elbardissi, AW, Dearani, JA, Daly, RC, et al. Embolic potential of cardiac tumors and outcome after resection: a case-control study. Stroke 2009; 40:156.
Reynen, K. Frequency of primary tumors of the heart. Am J Cardiol 1996; 77:107.
Simpson, L, Kumar, SK, Okuno, SH, et al. Malignant primary cardiac tumors: review of a single institution experience. Cancer 2008; 112:2440.
Wintersperger, BJ, Becker, CR, Gulbins, H, et al. Tumors of the cardiac valves: imaging findings in magnetic resonance imaging, electron beam computed tomography, and echocardiography. Eur Radiol 2000; 10:443.