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Primary Heart Tumors in the Pediatric Age Group: A Review of Salient Pathologic Features Relevant for Clinicians

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Because primary tumors of the heart in infants and children are extremely rare, most knowledge is based on collections of case reports rather than large cohort studies. The types of heart tumors encountered in the pediatric age group differ from those seen in adults. In the latter, cardiac myxomas are by far the most common tumor; in infants and children the most common primary tumor of the heart is the rhabdomyoma. Spontaneous regression of these tumors has been well established so that surgical intervention is no longer indicated unless there are clinical manifestations from the heart. There is a high incidence of associated tuberous sclerosis. Any intracavitary mass in infants is suggestive for a cardiac rhabdomyoma unless otherwise proven. The second most common tumor in this age group is cardiac fibroma. These tumors probably represent hamartomatous lesions and this has led to a strategy in which radical surgical excision is not indicated if the procedure endangers postoperative heart function. Cardiac myxomas are of interest in this age group because of their familial occurrence as part of the myxoma syndrome. Other types of primary heart tumors occur, including malignant variants, but all are exceedingly rare. It is because of the sporadic nature of these tumors that treatment and insights into prognosis are based largely on case documentations and analogies from similar tumors originating elsewhere.

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Becker, A. Primary Heart Tumors in the Pediatric Age Group: A Review of Salient Pathologic Features Relevant for Clinicians. Pediatr Cardiol 21, 317–323 (2000).

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