Cardiac tumours in children

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2007 Mar 1:2:11. doi: 10.1186/1750-1172-2-11.


Cardiac tumours are benign or malignant neoplasms arising primarily in the inner lining, muscle layer, or the surrounding pericardium of the heart. They can be primary or metastatic. Primary cardiac tumours are rare in paediatric practice with a prevalence of 0.0017 to 0.28 in autopsy series. In contrast, the incidence of cardiac tumours during foetal life has been reported to be approximately 0.14%. The vast majority of primary cardiac tumours in children are benign, whilst approximately 10% are malignant. Secondary malignant tumours are 10-20 times more prevalent than primary malignant tumours. Rhabdomyoma is the most common cardiac tumour during foetal life and childhood. It accounts for more than 60% of all primary cardiac tumours. The frequency and type of cardiac tumours in adults differ from those in children with 75% being benign and 25% being malignant. Myxomas are the most common primary tumours in adults constituting 40% of benign tumours. Sarcomas make up 75% of malignant cardiac masses. Echocardiography, Computing Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the heart are the main non-invasive diagnostic tools. Cardiac catheterisation is seldom necessary. Tumour biopsy with histological assessment remains the gold standard for confirmation of the diagnosis. Surgical resection of primary cardiac tumours should be considered to relieve symptoms and mechanical obstruction to blood flow. The outcome of surgical resection in symptomatic, non-myxomatous benign cardiac tumours is favourable. Patients with primary cardiac malignancies may benefit from palliative surgery but this approach should not be recommended for patients with metastatic cardiac tumours. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy may prolong survival. The prognosis for malignant primary cardiac tumours is generally extremely poor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Fetal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Fetal Diseases / therapy
  • Fibroma / diagnosis
  • Fibroma / epidemiology
  • Fibroma / therapy
  • Global Health
  • Heart Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Heart Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Heart Neoplasms / therapy
  • Heart Transplantation
  • Hemangioma / diagnosis
  • Hemangioma / epidemiology
  • Hemangioma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Myxoma / diagnosis
  • Myxoma / epidemiology
  • Myxoma / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Rhabdomyoma / diagnosis
  • Rhabdomyoma / epidemiology
  • Rhabdomyoma / therapy
  • Teratoma / diagnosis
  • Teratoma / epidemiology
  • Teratoma / therapy