Neoplasms metastatic to the heart: review of 3314 consecutive autopsies

Am J Cardiovasc Pathol. 1990;3(3):195-8.


Cardiac involvement by metastatic neoplasms is relatively uncommon and usually occurs with widely disseminated disease. Ninety-five cases with cardiac metastases from autopsies performed over a 14-year period (1974-1987) at Loyola University Medical Center are reviewed. During this period, 3314 autopsies were performed with an average annual autopsy rate of 35%. In 806 (24.3%), a malignant disease was found, and in 95 (11.8%), there was cardiac involvement by tumor. The most common malignancies encountered in order of decreasing frequency were lung, lymphoma, breast, leukemia, stomach, melanoma, liver, and colon. Although the percentage of cardiac metastasis compares favorably with previous reports in the literature, an identical rate was present during both halves of the 14-year period studied. Improved diagnostic capabilities and treatment protocols in recent years have apparently not significantly affected the incidence, distribution, or patterns of metastatic spread to the heart.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Heart Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Heart Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leukemia / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphoma / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Pericardium / pathology
  • Time Factors