Cardiac tumors are one of the rare types of tumors. Like any abnormal growth, it can present as a benign or malignant heart tumor. Depending on the type and size, treatment is difficult because surgical removal is not always possible.
What is a heart tumor?
Any form of cell proliferation in the heart area is referred to as a heart tumor, which affects the heart function differently depending on location and size.
According to abbreviationfinder.org, the different types are first differentiated according to whether they are benign or malignant. Benign or benign cardiac tumors usually grow slowly without metastasizing. These include myxoma, which is more common in women and usually occurs in the upper left ventricle of the heart.
As a malignant cancer, a heart tumor is either a primary tumor or a secondary heart tumor that can originate as a metastasis in a completely different part of the body. The benign heart tumor can often also be treated surgically, while this is not possible with a cancerous tumour. Cardiac tumors are very rare overall, with the incidence increasing in secondary tumors occurring as metastases.
The cause of a heart tumor can be found in various areas. It always occurs when there is an abnormal cell division. In this respect, the heart tumor does not differ from other types of tumors. This disruption of normal cell division, which then leads to pathological growths, can have various causes.
Environmental factors are just as important as unhealthy lifestyles. In the case of malignant heart tumors, medicine sees a close connection with smoking and alcohol consumption. Radiation damage can also trigger uncontrolled cell growth. This also applies to some viral diseases.
A possible connection with strong sun exposure over a longer period of time is considered to be the trigger for many forms of cancer. A hereditary form known as a benign heart tumor is known as the Carney complex.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
There are also non-specific general symptoms such as fever or weight loss. Some patients suffer from anemia, which manifests itself in fatigue and paleness, among other things. The restricted cardiac output leads to shortness of breath and cardiac arrhythmias, but also to serious circulatory problems.
Depending on the size and location of the tumor, cardiac insufficiency, fainting and strokes can occur. Bleeding into the pericardium can cause hypotension, i.e. low blood pressure. In the long term, heart failure develops, which is associated with chronically limited performance and other symptoms.
Externally, heart tumors often show up as characteristic patches on the skin. These so-called petechiae are small and reddish and can appear anywhere on the body. In about half of the patients, the tumor causes heart murmurs. In addition, chest pain and other non-specific symptoms that cannot be clearly attributed to a heart tumor often occur.
In the course of the disease, a heart tumor significantly affects the well-being of those affected. Physical and mental performance decreases and mental problems often arise. Typical are depressive moods and fears, which become noticeable in the form of panic attacks and tachycardia.
Diagnosis & History
The heart tumor is often confused with other heart diseases, at least in the beginning. The cause is that the impairments caused by the growing form of the tumor lead to symptoms such as cardiac arrhythmia, lack of resilience, chest pain and accelerated heartbeat.
For diagnosis, the methods of examination used to determine a heart disease are used. In addition to blood tests, this also includes extensive imaging examination methods. If cancer is already present, the diagnosis of a secondary heart tumor is obvious when heart problems occur. Some benign heart tumors show little or no impairment.
However, the proliferation of cells in and around the heart mainly leads to a reduction in physical performance. Affected patients are weakened, lose a lot of weight and can be affected by embolisms. Cardiac output decreases. It comes to circulatory disorders and insufficient oxygen supply in the extremities.
Rapid growth of a cardiac tumor always leads to death. This can be due to a sudden heart attack, an embolism or cardiac arrest. Until this occurs, patients become progressively weaker and suffer severely from the impairments caused by the heart tumor.
In many cases, a heart tumor leads to the patient’s death because it is not possible to surgically remove the tumor or treat it in any other way. For this reason, the patient’s life expectancy is extremely reduced by the heart tumor. This leads to cardiac arrhythmias and further to a heart attack. This can be fatal for the patient.
Sudden cardiac death can also occur, which is usually not preceded by any particular symptoms. Furthermore, most patients suffer from shortness of breath, which can often lead to panic attacks. The patient’s resilience decreases and there is severe and stabbing pain directly in the patient’s chest. The quality of life of those affected decreases significantly as a result of the heart tumor and many everyday activities can no longer be carried out to the usual extent.
The patient’s heartbeat often accelerates even at low levels of exertion. The extremities can no longer be adequately supplied with blood and oxygen and, in the worst case, die. Depending on the region of the heart tumor, it may be possible to remove it. However, in most cases, death occurs because it is not possible to completely remove the tumor.
When should you go to the doctor?
If signs of heart failure are noticed, possibly with a high fever, a heart tumor may be the cause. Medical advice is needed if symptoms persist for more than a few days. If there are additional symptoms such as joint pain, exhaustion or cardiac arrhythmia, you must see your family doctor immediately. This applies in particular to increasing symptoms that cannot be attributed to any other cause. A clear warning sign of a heart tumor are the small, mostly reddish spots on the skin.
These so-called petechiae indicate a serious condition and should be examined and treated immediately. People who have already had a tumor are particularly at risk. An unhealthy lifestyle can also have a negative impact on heart health and lead to the development of a heart tumor. Anyone who counts themselves among these risk groups should go to a general practitioner immediately with the symptoms mentioned. Other contacts are the cardiologist, various specialists in internal medicine and, in case of doubt, the medical emergency service.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of the heart tumor depends greatly on whether it is a benign tumor or a cancerous tumor. A benign tumor can be operated on.
The prerequisite is that he is in a suitable place. During the operation, the cell proliferation is surgically removed. This is usually enough for the impairments to regress. Recurrence of a benign heart tumor is rare. The cancerous tumor of the heart must be treated with chemotherapy or radiation.
Surgical removal is not necessary because the large-scale removal of the tissue from the heart cannot be carried out. In some cases, drugs slow tumor growth. However, the chances of recovery from a malignant heart tumor are slim.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of a heart tumor depends on various criteria. The prognosis depends on the size of the tumour, the location of the tissue change, the nature of the heart tumour, existing diseases and the age of the patient. It is to be evaluated individually according to the specifications of the patient.
In the case of a benign tumor that is easy for the surgeon to reach, the tissue change is completely removed in a surgical procedure. If there are no other impairments of cardiac activity, the patient can be released from treatment within a few months. Check-ups are recommended at regular intervals so that an immediate reaction can be taken if the heart tumor returns.
The larger the tumor, the more difficult it is to completely remove the diseased tissue because of the risk of tissue damage to surrounding areas. These trigger functional disorders and can lead to lifelong problems or cardiac failure. In the case of a malignant growth of the heart tumor, doctors often recommend cancer therapy before an operation is carried out to remove the affected tissue.
If there are other diseases of the heart, the patient’s chances of recovery deteriorate. The risk of heart failure increases and so does the mortality rate. The prognosis also worsens with increasing age.
In the case of a heart tumor, prevention is at least possible in the form that the individual risk factors are kept as low as possible. This includes a healthy lifestyle without the influence of tobacco products and alcohol. Exposure to excessive radiation from excessive sunbathing should also be avoided. This does not completely eliminate the risk of developing a heart tumor.
Follow-up care is essential, especially in the case of tumors. This is done by different doctors. In principle, follow-up appointments are also possible in general practitioners’ practices if the general practitioner has sound additional training.
After the surgical removal of a tumor, a grace period must first be observed. The patient should stay in bed for the first few days after the procedure and avoid physical activity if possible. To ensure optimal wound healing, those affected should avoid going to the sauna, swimming and consuming stimulants such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Basically, the main goal of tumor aftercare is the timely detection of any new tumors, so-called recurrences. These can occur both in the affected organ itself and in other organs. Follow-up appointments ensure early detection of possible recurrences. In some cases, this can prevent serious consequences.
In the aftercare of cardiac tumors, it is also necessary to regularly examine the patient’s cardiac function. The doctor also conducts a thorough anamnesis interview. This should not only be used to assess the patient’s physical condition, but also to reveal any psychosocial problems. In addition to extensive physical examinations, blood tests and imaging methods such as X-rays and ultrasound are used in tumor prevention.
Follow-up care should begin immediately after treatment is complete. The patients will be monitored at regular intervals for a period of five years. Depending on the type of tumor, the follow-up examinations can take place more or less frequently. In the case of malignant tumours, in particular, the patient must keep follow-up appointments throughout their life in order to be able to detect a possible renewed outbreak of the disease as quickly as possible.
You can do that yourself
A strong emotional burden is demanded of the patient of a cardiac tumor. In addition to the physical limitations and complaints, mental strengthening is necessary. This can be done through an exchange with close relatives or friends. In some cases, psychotherapy or behavioral therapy helps to process the changed living conditions. In addition, the patient has the opportunity to contact other patients in self-help groups or forums. Through mutual help and support, many of those affected experience an improvement in their well-being and gain new confidence in dealing with the disease on a daily basis.
A balanced and vitamin-rich food intake is important so that the body can muster enough resources for the stresses of a treatment. Despite a loss of appetite, the intake of healthy foods is necessary to strengthen the immune system. In addition, the consumption of nicotine or alcohol should be avoided, as this weakens the organism. Follow the doctor’s instructions to ensure optimal treatment.
In addition, relaxation methods help to reduce the mental stress caused by the disease. The patient can use techniques such as yoga or meditation in a self-determined and responsible manner according to his individual needs. Leisure activities that promote joie de vivre also help to strengthen the psyche.