Heart Tumors

Heart tumors, or abnormal growths in the heart tissue, can be classified as either primary (originating within the heart) or secondary (spreading from a primary tumor in another organ such as the lungs). 

Although most primary heart tumors are benign, with about 75 percent being noncancerous, they can still cause significant health issues. These tumors might interfere with the heart’s normal functions, potentially leading to heart failurearrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) or heart murmurs. Furthermore, there is a risk that these tumors could degenerate, possibly causing pieces to dislodge and block blood flow in small arteries, leading to severe complications.

At Michigan Medicine, treating heart tumors is a collaborative effort and aims to tailor the most effective treatment strategies for each individual patient.

Detection and Treatment of Heart Tumors 

Diagnosing heart tumors can be challenging due to the similarity of their symptoms to those of other heart conditions. Initial investigations typically include an echocardiogram with further imaging possibly involving angiography, computer tomography (CT scan), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if a tumor is suspected. 

The treatment approach of both benign and malignant heart tumors generally involves a comprehensive diagnostic workup followed by chemotherapy and possible surgical removal. In some cases where the tumor’s location makes complete surgical removal challenging, alternative techniques may be considered. 

At U-M Health, a multi-disciplinary team adopts a personalized approach to treatment, aiming for optimal outcomes for each patient.

Symptoms of Heart Tumors 

Individuals with primary heart tumors may experience: 

  • Difficulty breathing, particularly when lying flat or during sleep 
  • Episodes of fainting, lightheadedness or dizziness 
  • Palpitations or an unusually rapid heart rate 
  • Chest pain or a sensation of tightness in the chest 
  • This integrative and expert-driven approach ensures that patients with heart tumors receive care that is both advanced and tailored to their specific needs. 

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