Is there such a thing as heart cancer?

Answer From Karthik Giridhar, M.D.

Yes. Most tumors that form in the heart aren't cancerous. But some heart tumors can be cancerous.

Cancer that begins in the heart is most often sarcoma, a type of cancer that originates in the soft tissues of the body.

Heart cancer (malignant primary cardiac tumor) is extremely rare. One study reviewed more than 12,000 autopsies and found only seven people with primary cardiac tumor. At Mayo Clinic, on average only one person with heart cancer is seen each year.

Although still rare, most cancers found in the heart have come from elsewhere in the body. Cancers that begin near the heart, such as lung cancer and breast cancer, can grow to involve the heart or the lining around the heart (pericardial sac). Or cancer can begin elsewhere in the body and spread to the heart through the bloodstream. Cancers that may affect the heart include lung cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and melanoma, among others.

With

Karthik Giridhar, M.D.

July 11, 2020 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. Adjuvant therapy for cancer
  2. After a flood, are food and medicines safe to use?
  3. Alternative cancer treatments: 10 options to consider
  4. Atypical cells: Are they cancer?
  5. Biological therapy for cancer
  6. Biopsy procedures
  7. Blood Basics
  8. Bone marrow transplant
  9. Bone scan
  10. Cancer
  11. Cancer blood tests
  12. Myths about cancer causes
  13. Infographic: Cancer Clinical Trials Offer Many Benefits
  14. Cancer diagnosis: 11 tips for coping
  15. Cancer diagnosis? Advice for dealing with what comes next
  16. Cancer-related fatigue
  17. Cancer pain: Relief is possible
  18. Cancer-prevention strategies
  19. Cancer risk: What the numbers mean
  20. Cancer surgery
  21. Cancer survival rate
  22. Cancer survivors: Care for your body after treatment
  23. Cancer survivors: Late effects of cancer treatment
  24. Cancer survivors: Managing your emotions after cancer treatment
  25. Cancer survivors: Reconnecting with loved ones after treatment
  26. Cancer treatment decisions: 5 steps to help you decide
  27. Safe cancer treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic
  28. Cancer treatment during COVID-19: How to move ahead safely
  29. Cancer treatment for men: Possible sexual side effects
  30. Cancer treatment for women: Possible sexual side effects
  31. Cancer treatment myths
  32. Cancer Vaccine Research
  33. Cellphones and cancer
  34. Chemo Targets
  35. Chemoembolization
  36. Chemotherapy
  37. Chemotherapy and hair loss: What to expect during treatment
  38. Chemotherapy and sex: Is sexual activity OK during treatment?
  39. Chemotherapy nausea and vomiting: Prevention is best defense
  40. Chemotherapy side effects: A cause of heart disease?
  41. Complete blood count (CBC)
  42. Cough
  43. CT scan
  44. CT scans: Are they safe?
  45. Curcumin: Can it slow cancer growth?
  46. Cancer-related diarrhea
  47. Eating during cancer treatment: Tips to make food tastier
  48. Fatigue
  49. Fertility preservation
  50. Get ready for possible side effects of chemotherapy
  51. Ginger for nausea: Does it work?
  52. High-dose vitamin C: Can it kill cancer cells?
  53. Honey: An effective cough remedy?
  54. How plant-based food helps fight cancer
  55. Intrathecal chemotherapy
  56. Joint pain
  57. Joint pain: Rheumatoid arthritis or parvovirus?
  58. Low blood counts
  59. Magic mouthwash
  60. Medical marijuana
  61. Mediterranean diet recipes
  62. Mindfulness exercises
  63. Monoclonal antibody drugs
  64. Mort Crim and Cancer
  65. Mouth sores caused by cancer treatment: How to cope
  66. MRI
  67. Muscle pain
  68. Night sweats
  69. No appetite? How to get nutrition during cancer treatment
  70. Palliative care
  71. PALS (Pets Are Loving Support)
  72. Pelvic exenteration
  73. PET/MRI scan
  74. Pet therapy
  75. Radiation therapy
  76. Routine cancer screening during coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  77. Infographic: Scalp Cooling Therapy for Cancer
  78. Secondhand smoke
  79. Seeing Inside the Heart with MRI
  80. Self-Image During Cancer
  81. Sentinel lymph node mapping
  82. Sisters' Bone Marrow Transplant
  83. Sleep tips
  84. Mediterranean diet
  85. Radiation simulation
  86. Small cell, large cell cancer: What this means
  87. Stem Cells 101
  88. Stem cells: What they are and what they do
  89. Thalidomide: Research advances in cancer and other conditions
  90. Treating pain: When is an opioid the right choice?
  91. Tumor vs. cyst: What's the difference?
  92. Ultrasound
  93. Unexplained weight loss
  94. Stem cell transplant
  95. How cancer spreads
  96. MRI
  97. PICC line placement
  98. Compassionate use
  99. When cancer returns: How to cope with cancer recurrence
  100. X-ray
  101. Your secret weapon during cancer treatment? Exercise!