Both heart disease and cancer are among the leading causes of death. However, tumors in the heart are very rare and so far hardly explored.
Heart tumor patient struggled with exhaustion
Heart specialists from the American Heart Association report on the case of Jan Mitchell from Tennessee. The 62-year-old was struggling with extreme fatigue: “It was more than just tired, I came home from work and had no energy to do anything.” Mitchell visited one doctor after another. After a stress test, an investigation for sleep apnea and numerous other tests, her gallbladder should undergo computed tomography. During the examination, the imaging technician discovered a tumor in Mitchell’s heart.
Heart tumors are very rare
Such tumors are very rare: According to a study, they meet less than two out of every 100,000 people a year. “A heart surgeon may only get to see something like this once in his career, if at all,” says cardio-oncology specialist Dr. med. Monika Leja from the University of Michigan.
Heart tumors are benign but dangerous
About three-quarters of all heart tumors are benign and have nothing in common with cancer. Nevertheless, they can be dangerous. For example, parts of it may detach, causing strokes. As a rule, such tumors can be removed surgically. Since the heart is made up of connective tissue, cancers are very rare there.
In Jan Mitchell, the operation triggered a cardiac arrhythmia. Because it can cause blood clots, it has been treated with a device designed to prevent them from migrating to the brain.