Intracardiac Cancer

Intracardiac cancer occurs in the heart muscle. Most intracardiac tumors develop as a result of a primary cancer in another part of the body spreading (metastasizing) to the heart. Those that develop as primary cancers are typically soft-tissue sarcomas.

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s skilled chest (thoracic) cancer specialists – who often work closely with their colleagues in cardiothoracic surgery – are up to the task of diagnosing and treating this complex disease.

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects that you have intracardiac cancer, he or she will conduct a physical examination and order tests to confirm the diagnosis. Further tests may be needed to help determine the cancer’s stage and precise location.

Cardiac imaging techniques used to diagnose intracardiac cancer might include:

Chest X-ray
X-rays help visualize abnormalities in the heart.
Contrast enhanced or multidetector computed tomography (CT) scan
CT technology helps physicians visualize the location and extent of intracardiac cancer.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
MRI helps physicians identify suspicious areas that could indicate intracardiac cancer and learn if, and how far, it has spread.
Positron emission tomography (PET)
Cancer cells absorb large amounts of radioactive sugar that are used in this technique, and a special camera creates images of that radioactivity, enabling physicians to identify cancerous cells in the heart.
Endoscopic ultrasonography
This technology maps sound waves to enable physicians to visualize intracardiac cancer.

Additional testing also may include a tissue sample (biopsy) of cardiac tissue to determine the presence of cancer.

Treatment

The risk of harming the health and function of the heart makes intracardiac cancer particularly challenging to treat. Treatment options depend on the cancer’s precise location and stage, the patient’s overall health, goals, and preferences, and other factors.

Image-guided, highly precise surgery is typically used to resect (remove) intracardiac tumors. Learn more about surgery for chest cancers.

Depending on the cause and extent of their intracardiac cancer, some patients may be eligible to participate in clinical trials of new treatments for the disease.

Clinical Trials

UT Southwestern conducts clinical trials aimed at improving the care and outcomes of patients with intracardiac cancer. Your cancer physicians can help you determine if you are eligible to participate in a clinical trial.

Meet Our Experts

UT Southwestern’s thoracic cancer experts use the most advanced techniques and technologies to diagnose and care for patients with intracardiac tumors. Our multidisciplinary team includes these medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and surgical oncologists:

Learn more about the chest cancer team.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with an intracardiac cancer specialist, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.