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Rare and dangerous heart tumor: These symptoms are signs of heart cancer

Rare and dangerous heart tumor: These symptoms are signs of heart cancer


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A heart tumor is rare - but dangerous

Although heart disease is responsible for most deaths and cancer ranks second, heart cancer is a very rare and little-researched disease. American heart specialists explain why the heart is so rarely affected by tumor diseases.

The American Heart Association recently reported on the rare case of Jan Mitchell from Tennessee. The 62-year-old had a tumor on her heart that was almost the size of a tennis ball.

It started with an unreal fatigue

"The tiredness I went through was unreal," Mitchell said in a recent report from the American Heart Association. The exhaustion was so great that the Tennessee woman had absolutely no energy to do anything after she got home from work. To get to the bottom of this condition, she sought help from doctors.

Doctors Odyssey

Mitchell visited one doctor after another. She was examined countless times, underwent a stress test and was sent to the sleep laboratory with suspected sleep apnea (breathing interruptions) - without success. Finally, the doctors suspected the gallbladder as a culprit and performed a computed tomography. The imaging technician then accidentally discovered the tumor on the heart during the CT examination.

Cardiac tumors are extremely rare

Little is known about heart cancer. There is a study that says less than two per 100,000 people develop such a tumor each year. "A cardiac surgeon may only see one person throughout his career," explains cardio-oncologist Dr. Monika Leja from the Frankel Cardiovascular Center at the University of Michigan.

Cardiac tumors are predominantly benign

About three quarters of all cardiac tumors are benign, the heart specialist continues. Tumors of this type rarely form metastases. Nevertheless, they are very dangerous. The tumor can severely restrict natural heart function. In addition, parts of the tumor can come loose and cause a sudden stroke. These tumors are usually surgically removed immediately after they are discovered.

Why heart cancer is so rare

"The heart is made up of connective tissue, and cancer in this tissue is rare," adds Dr. Scott Schuetze from the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Michigan. Tumor diseases primarily spread to the so-called epithelial tissue, which is increasingly found in organs such as the prostate, breast, intestine, pancreas, stomach and esophagus and in the skin.

The heart is more susceptible to diseases of the blood vessels

"Because the heart is extremely dependent on blood flow for its work, it is more susceptible to diseases that are related to the blood vessels," emphasizes the expert. These include diseases such as high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). (vb)

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