Heart cancer (primary cardiac tumor) is cancer that arises in the heart. Primary cancers of the heart, in which the cancer starts and develops in the heart, are very rare. Although still rare, most cancers found in the heart have come from elsewhere in the body. These include lymphomas that originate in the chest near the heart. Other cancers that can spread to the heart include melanomas and sarcomas. Another rare type of cancer known as carcinoid tumor produces hormones that can damage cardiac valves.
Cardiac cancers can develop from any part of the heart. When these cells become cancerous, they multiply and create irregular blood vessel that can bulge into the atrium and spread to adjacent structures. These tumors originate from muscle cells that have become cancerous.
The most common primary cardiac tumor is the myxoma. Myxomas have their origin in connective tissue. A cardiac myxoma may create an extra heart sound, and it can often be detected in an echo cardiogram. Most primary cardiac tumors are rare to metastasize and spread; as such they are often called benign. These tumors can can obstruct the heart’s flow as well as disrupt its electrical system, which can lead to sudden death.
The cause of cardiac cancer is not known. As with any cancer, changes occur inside the cells, which lead to alteration of their function and uncontrollable growth. These types of changes can occur in any of the cardiac cells. Cardiac cancer is fairly rare, as the muscle cells of the heart do not typically form cancers. Heart cancer can be either primary or secondary. Primary cardiac tumors are not malignant, but can still be very serious. Cancer treatments also can affect the heart. Certain chemotherapy drugs can cause damage to the heart. Radiation therapy directed at or near the heart also can cause damage to the cardiac muscle and increase the risk of coronary artery disease later in life.
DETECTION OF CARDIAC CANCER
Initially, cardiac cancer may not have any symptoms. When symptoms develop, they often resemble those of heart disease. The sudden onset of cardiac failure may be the first symptom of cardiac cancer. Symptoms of cardiac cancer are almost the same as those of heart disease, such as chest pain, irregular heart rhythms, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Heart can be detected from the following symptoms:
• Heart attack
• Heart failure
• Valve dysfunction
• Irregular heart beat
• Heart murmurs
• Abnormal rhythms of heart (Arrhythmias)
• Shortness of breath owing to heart disease (Dyspnea)
• A rapid heart rate above 100 beats per minute (Tachycardia)
• Pain in a sac-like structure surrounding the heart (Pleural pericardial pain)
• Enlargement of heart (Cardiomegaly)
• Swelling in a major blood vessel called pericardium (Pericarditis)
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
Cardiac cancer isn’t something that can be cured by home remedies. Instead, proper medication and regular check ups are to be done. Radiation and chemotherapy can be used to help manage symptoms. Seek immediate medical care for serious symptoms, such as chest pain or pressure, rapid or irregular heart rate, rapid breathing, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, changes in level of consciousness, loss of consciousness, or anxiety. Consult your doctor for sudden unexpected weight gain, fatigue, or swelling in the feet and ankles.