Primary heart cancer is a very rare disease. Metastatic tumors of the heart in which the cancer originated in another organ and spread to the heart are more common than the underlying disease.
According to European Cancer Society, each year are diagnosed in Europe about 10 000 new cases of cancer of the soft tissue (including cancer of the heart).
Heart cancer can develop in any part of the heart. In adults the most common form of cancer is the cardiac angiosarcoma, which usually develops in the right atrium. Angiosarcoma occurs in cells that form the walls of blood vessels. When these cells become cancerous they multiply and create a mass in the form of irregular blood vessels, which can spread to neighboring structures.
The second most common primary cardiac tumors in adults and the most common in children is heart rhabdomyosarcoma. These tumors arise from the muscle cells. Rhabdomyosarcoma may develop in any part of the heart.
Less common types of primary tumors of the heart is the heart liposarcoma, mesothelioma, fibrosarcoma, histiocytoma and schwannomas.
Symptoms of cancer of the heart may resemble cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath and fatigue. Sometimes these symptoms develop suddenly. For the treatment of diseases usually applied radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Sometimes to control the symptoms can be used operations that are performed only in specialized centers.
Sudden onset of heart failure may be the first symptom of cancer of the heart. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if severe symptoms such as pain or pressure in the chest, rapid or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, stickiness skin, excessive sweating, changes in consciousness, coma, or anxiety, as well as sudden weight gain, fatigue and swelling in the legs and ankles.
Diagnosis of cancer of the heart
The disease is determined by standard echocardiography, although sometimes the doctor prescribes transesophageal echocardiogram (through the esophagus).
Once the diagnosis is established, doctor examines the possibility of cardiac surgery. Before that considers all possible risks in each situation. In deciding the important role played by the size of the heart and pressure, the patient’s age and general condition. For this very important right and thorough diagnosis. In Israel the risk of death from cardiac surgery is one of the lowest in the world.