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Right Heart Sarcomas


Ara Vaporciyan ,

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas; Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, Houston, Texas, US
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Michael J. Reardon

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas; Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, Houston, Texas, US
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Primary cardiac tumors are unusual, and primary cardiac sarcomas constitute a rare subset of these. In cardiac sarcoma, unlike many malignancies, the histologic cell type does appear to affect the treatment options or prognosis in a significant way. The presenting symptoms, treatment options and, indeed, prognosis are largely controlled by the tumor’s anatomic location.

We have proposed a classification system based on anatomic location that divides cardiac sarcoma into left heart, right heart and pulmonary artery sarcomas. In our experience, right heart sarcoma tends to be bulky, grow in a more exophitic manner, be more infiltrative, and metastasize earlier than left heart or pulmonary artery sarcoma. Right heart sarcoma also presents less often in congestive heart failure or with compromised hemodynamic status than left heart and pulmonary artery sarcoma, which are usually highly symptomatic at presentation. The prognosis for right heart sarcoma without surgery is dismal. Complete surgical resection remains the goal of therapy and the only treatment modality shown to increase survival. Complete surgical resection is complicated both by the bulky infiltrative nature of right heart sarcoma and the high incidence of metastatic disease at presentation.

The current approach of our cardiac sarcoma group to right heart sarcoma has been to begin neoadjuvant chemotherapy once a definitive tissue diagnosis of sarcoma is achieved. After 4 to 6 rounds of chemotherapy, the patient is considered for surgical resection. This standardized treatment has been approved in our IRB protocol: A Clinical Trial to Assess the Safety and Efficacy of a Novel Radical Tumor ReSection Procedure used in conjunction with NEoadjuvant ChemotheRapy to treat Malignant Primary Right Heart Cardiac TumOrs — the ESPERO trial. This protocol is designed to compare our existing 24 index cases of surgical resection of right heart sarcoma using a nonstandardized treatment plan, with routine neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and a standardized treatment plan to see if the rate of microscopically complete resection can be improved from its current level of 33% and if this will improve patient survival. In this review, we will discuss the experience with right heart sarcoma.

How to Cite: 1. Vaporciyan A, Reardon MJ. Right Heart Sarcomas. Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal. 2010;6(3):44-48. DOI:
Published on 01 Jul 2010.
Peer Reviewed


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