How is heart cancer treated?

Treatments for heart cancer are designed to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Goal of cancer treatment

The goal of heart cancer treatment is to permanently cure the cancer or to bring about a complete remission of the disease. Remission means that there is no longer any sign of the disease in the body, although it may recur or relapse later.

Common treatments for heart cancer

Treatments for heart cancer include:

  • Chemotherapy to attack cancer cells and manage symptoms
  • Dietary counseling to help people with cancer maintain their strength and nutritional status
  • Heart transplantation in selected patients
  • Palliative care to improve the overall quality of life for families and patients with serious diseases
  • Participation in a clinical trial that is testing promising new therapies and treatments for heart cancer
  • Physical therapy to help strengthen the body, increase alertness, reduce fatigue, and improve functional ability during and after cancer treatment
  • Radiation therapy to attack cancer cells and manage symptoms
  • Surgery to remove cancer and preserve function of the heart

Complementary treatments

Some complementary treatments may help some people to better deal with heart cancer and its treatments. These treatments, sometimes referred to as alternative therapies, are used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments. Complementary treatments are not meant to substitute for traditional medical care. Be sure to notify your doctor if you are consuming nutritional supplements or homeopathic (nonprescription) remedies as they may interact with the prescribed medical therapy.

Complementary treatments may include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Nutritional dietary supplements, herbal remedies, tea beverages, and similar products
  • Yoga

Hospice care

In cases in which heart cancer has progressed to an advanced stage and has become unresponsive to treatment, the goal of treatment may shift away from curing the disease and focus on measures to keep a person comfortable and maximize the quality of life. Hospice care involves medically controlling pain and other symptoms while providing psychological and spiritual support as well as services to support the patient’s family.

What are the potential complications of heart cancer?

Complications of heart cancer can be serious, even life threatening in some cases. Like other malignancies, heart cancer can spread to other distant organs. Depending on the tumor’s specific location, tumor fragments can also break free and enter the circulation. These tumor emboli can cause stroke, oxygen starvation to vital organs and limbs, and premature death. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of heart cancer include:

  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
  • Heart failure
  • Spread of cancer
  • Stroke
  • Tumor emboli


  1. Heart tumors. Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  2. Cardiac tumors. Cedars-Sinai.
  3. Hoey ET, Mankad K, Puppala S, et al. MRI and CT appearances of cardiac tumours in adults. Clin Radiol 2009; 64:1214.

What is heart cancer?

Primary cancers of the heart, in which the cancer starts and develops in the heart, are very rare. Metastatic tumors in the heart, in which the cancer originated at another location and spread to the heart, occur twenty times more frequently than primary heart cancers, although they too are also not common. The American Cancer Society estimated that about 10,000 new cases of soft tissue ca... Read more about heart cancerintroduction


What are the symptoms of heart cancer?

Initially, heart cancer may not have any symptoms. When symptoms develop, they often resemble those of heart disease. The symptoms of heart cancer can occur suddenly.

Common symptoms of heart cancer

Common symptoms of heart cancer include:


What causes heart cancer?

The cause of heart cancer is not known. As with any cancer, changes occur inside the cells, which lead to alteration of their function and uncontrollable growth. These types of changes can occur in any of the cells of the heart.

What are the risk factors for heart cancer?

Heart cancer is a very rare disease. Its risk factors have not yet been identified.

... Read more about heart cancercauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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