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A single, small noncancerous primary heart tumor, including myxomas, can be surgically removed, usually resulting in a cure.

Chemotherapy or Radiation

Primary or secondary cancerous tumors that cannot be surgically removed are often fatal. Treatment is designed to reduce symptoms and may include chemotherapy or radiation.

Draining Fluid

If tumors in the pericardium cause fluid to accumulate around the heart, that fluid may be drained.

Heart Disease Secondary to Cancer Treatments

Some cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, may cause damage to the heart, such as cardiomyopathy or weakening of the heart muscle or can cause a heart attack from spasm or narrowing of the arteries that deliver blood to the heart.


Some chemotherapy regimens can also increase the risk of cardiomyopathy or heart attack. Some commonly used breast cancer drugs, Adriamycin and Herceptin, can sometimes cause weakening of the heart muscle.


Radiation, particularly to an area of the body that includes the heart, can also increase the risk of cardiomyopathy and heart attack.

Assessment May Be Needed

Some experts recommend that cancer patients, particularly breast cancer patients, get a formal heart risk assessment before their cancer treatment regimen is decided.

Cardiac Amyloidosis

Linked to Multiple Myeloma

Cardiac amyloidosis is a disorder caused by deposits of an abnormal protein (amyloid) in the heart tissue, which make it hard for the heart to work properly. It is often seen in patients with multiple myeloma. Cardiac amyloidosis occurs when these deposits take the place of normal heart muscle. The condition may be treated with chemotherapy or anti-inflammatory medications.

Can Cause Arrhythmias

Cardiac amyloidosis may also affect the way electrical signals move through the heart, leading to arrhythmias. These abnormal rhythms may be treated with medications and a pacemaker.

Eventually, however, the heart muscle fails. Patients with this condition rarely live longer than one to two years.

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Medicine
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215