Tumors of the heart either develop directly in the heart muscle (primary tumors) or spread from another location in the body to the heart (metastatic tumors). The symptoms and complications produced by a heart tumor depend on several factors, including the location and size of the tumor. Heart tumors can be symptomless or can cause life-threatening complications, such as arrhythmias (an abnormal heartbeat), conduction disturbances (electrical disturbances) and heart failure.
Primary tumors of the heart are rare. They include:
Myxomas. The most common type of heart tumor, myxomas are often associated with other abnormalities such as adrenal gland disease and pituitary gland tumors.
Lipomas. These tumors are made up of fat cells. They usually don't cause problems.
Rhabdomyomas and fibromas. These tumors more commonly occur in infants and children. Rhabdomyomas consist of muscle tissue and fibromas consist of fibrous tissue. They usually form in the ventricles and can obstruct blood flow out of the ventricles.
Sarcomas. Sarcomas grow very rapidly and are deadly. Metastatic tumors of the heart are more common than primary tumors. Many different types of cancer can spread to the heart. The most frequent one is malignant melanoma (a type of skin cancer).