Therapy for primary cardiac tumors: is there a role for heart transplantation?

A Gowdamarajan, R E Michler
Current Opinion in Cardiology 2000, 15 (2): 121-5
Primary cardiac tumors are rare clinical entities. Benign tumors are often amenable to surgical excision, whereas malignant tumors are seldom resectable. The literature has reported that 28 patients have undergone orthotopic heart transplantation for inoperable primary cardiac tumors. The results of these transplants are presented in this article. Of the 28 patients who underwent orthotopic heart transplantation for primary cardiac neoplasms, 7 patients had benign histology (fibroma-5, rhabdomyoma-1, and pheochromocytoma-1) and 21 patients had malignant histology (sarcoma-15, malignant fibrohistiocytoma-3, and lymphoma-3). Mean survival in the patients with benign histology was 46 months, and the mean survival in the patients with malignant histology was 12 months. However, there were seven patients with malignant histology who had survived for a mean of 27 months without evidence of recurrent disease. An awareness by clinicians of the presenting clinical picture of these tumors is warranted in view of the potential for cure by resection or transplantation. Patients with benign primary cardiac tumors appear to benefit from the complete resection afforded by cardiectomy and transplantation. The role of transplantation for patients with malignant tumors remains unclear. Further experience and continued follow-up of these patients is necessary to ascertain the role of cardiac transplantation, radiation, and chemotherapy in the management of patients with primary tumors of the heart.

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