What is Heart Cancer?

In the body, any type of abnormal growth is called a tumor, whether it is found to be benign or malignant. Benign means that the tumor is noncancerous while malignant means that the tumor is cancerous. Tumors that are classified as malignant grow rapidly and tend to spread quickly to other body parts. At the same time, tumors that are benign grow slowly and are usually harmless depending on where their location is in the body.

Tumors that originate from the heart, called primary tumors, or primary heart cancer happens to be rare. The occurrence is in one out of two thousand people. A tumor that starts in a different body location that spread to the heart is classified as a tumor that is secondary.

A myxoma is a primary heart tumor that is noncancerous. Usually, this occurs in the atrium or the left upper chamber and is more common in females. Tumors that are cancerous from smoking are the leading cause of cancer death compared to any other external source.

Symptoms of a heart tumor:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Rapid heart rate or palpitations
  • Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting
  • Having a hard time breathing when asleep or when lying flat

General symptoms might also include:

  • Swelling of abdomen, ankles, and legs
  • Enlargement of the soft tissues of the fingers or nail curvature
  • Change in finger color or when pressure is applied they turn blue.
  • Pain in the joints
  • Weight loss involuntarily
  • Cough or fever

Diagnosis

Due to heart cancer being so rare, plus the fact they have similar symptoms to other conditions and diseases of the heart, it is often hard to diagnose primary heart tumors. After getting a total assessment of diagnostic tests, symptoms and family history, people with unexplained symptoms of heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, and heart murmurs may be diagnosed with primary tumors in the heart. Tests for secondary heart tumors are done for people with cancers in other body parts that present heart malfunction symptoms.

Heart Cancer Causes

As a general rule, there are varied causes of heart cancer. For the most part, these are thought to be resulting from abnormal cell division regulation. These can also be from irregularities of the immune system not capable of fighting or detecting aberrant growth. Certain viruses, radiation and extreme exposure to benzene, poisonous mushrooms, tobacco or the sun, can cause tumors.

Heart cancer is a rare occurrence, and there is not as much information about this type of condition compared to others. For this reason, learning all you can and gaining all the information possible about the causes, symptoms, diagnoses and risk factors related to cancer of the heart will give you a clear overview of this rare but existing condition.