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Cardiac Tumors

Cardiac tumors, or abnormal growths in your heart, may be either primary (benign or malignant) or metastatic (malignant). Primary tumors begin in your heart itself and are, in general, rare. Metastatic tumors are 30 to 40 times more common. In either case, cardiac tumors may occur in any part of your heart tissue.

What are the most common types of cardiac tumors?


Benign cardiac tumors do not grow uncontrollably and usually do not spread. Common benign cardiac tumors include:

  • Myxoma. A tumor that forms inside your heart cavity, most commonly in the left atrium. This is the most common type of benign cardiac tumor.
     
  • Rhabdomyomas. Tumors that develop in the heart muscle or the inner layer of the heart tissue, typically in the walls of the ventricle. Seen most often in children and infants.
     
  • Fibromas. Tumors that develop in your heart muscle or the inner layer of your heart tissue, typically in the valves.
     
  • Teratomas of the pericardium. A tumor that forms at the base of the great vessels, most commonly in the left atrium. Most commonly seen in infants.
     
  • Lipomas. Tumors made of fatty tissue.
     
  • Pericardial cysts. A fluid-filled cyst within the outer layer of the fibrous tissue surrounding the heart

Malignant, or cancerous, tumors that originated elsewhere in the body and spread to the heart are more common than ones that originate in the heart. Lung and breast cancers often invade the heart, and malignant melanomas (skin cancers) have one of the highest rates of spreading to the heart. Common malignant cardiac tumors include:

  • Angiosarcomas. A cancerous tumor that typically develops on the right side of the heart. This is the most common type of malignant cardiac tumor
     
  • Rhabdomyosarcomas. A cancerous tumor that typically develops in the heart muscle
     
  • Fibrosarcomas. A tumor arising from the cells that produce connective tissue (fibroblasts). It is most often found in the area around bones or in soft tissue.
     
  • Liposarcomas. A malignant tumor that develops in the deep soft tissue of the body. They are typically large bulky tumors that tend to have multiple smaller satellites extending beyond the main tumor.

What are the symptoms of a cardiac tumor?

Cardiac tumors symptoms vary depending on the type and location, some symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid or abnormal heartbeats