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If your child has a heart tumor, they need care from specialized pediatric doctors who understand these tumors and know which treatments are best. At Atrium Health Levine Children’s, our team works together to create a custom care plan for each child – and we do everything we can to help kids with heart tumors grow up to be happy, healthy adults.

Make an appointment

To learn more about treatment for pediatric heart tumors at Levine Children’s, contact us 704-373-1813.

About pediatric heart tumors

Heart tumors are irregular growths in the heart muscle or in one of the heart’s chambers. Our team has seen many types of heart tumors in kids of all ages, including:

Benign heart tumors

Most heart tumors in children are benign, which means they aren’t cancerous and won’t spread. However, these tumors can still cause serious health problems because they can interfere with the heart’s rhythm or the way blood flows in and out of the heart. Common benign heart tumors in kids include:

  • Fibroma: A rare tumor in the heart’s ventricles.
  • Hemangioma: A rare tumor that can grow in the heart chambers or other parts of the body.
  • Myxoma: A tumor in the atrium of the heart.
  • Rhabdomyoma: A tumor that usually starts in the left or right ventricle. This is the most common type of heart tumor in children.

Cancerous heart tumors

Cancerous heart tumors are very rare in children. These tumors happen when cells divide abnormally and are likely to spread to other parts of the body. Most cases are sarcomas (cancers that start in the bones or connective tissues), which include:

  • Angiosarcoma: Tumors in the blood vessels or lymph vessels.
  • Fibrosarcoma: Tumors in the fibroblasts (fibrous cells in the heart and other parts of the body).
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma: Tumors that start in the heart and other muscle tissue.

Diagnosing and treating pediatric heart tumors

Doctors find some heart tumors on an ultrasound when a baby is still in the womb. Other times, we find tumors because of symptoms like a heart murmur. Once we detect a potential problem, we typically use echocardiograms, MRIs or ultrasounds to take pictures of your child’s heart. Then, we’ll evaluate their condition and move forward with:

  • Watchful waiting: Some heart tumors are tiny and will disappear over time. Our team uses advanced tools to evaluate if this is likely for your child. Then we closely monitor your child’s heart, so we can step in if tumors start to grow or cause health problems.
  • Surgery: Some heart tumors harm your child’s heart and require surgery. Our surgeons will remove the tumor and repair any damage it caused. The Levine Children’s team is highly experienced at operating on even the smallest babies. We also take steps to make these procedures as easy on families as possible, for example using minimally invasive procedures so kids heal faster.
  • Chemotherapy: If a child’s heart tumor is cancerous, our cancer care team often uses chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. Sometimes these strong medicines can hurt your child’s heart. We bring in a cardio-oncologist (a doctor who specializes in protecting the heart during cancer treatment) to keep this risk to a minimum.
  • Heart transplant: When heart tumors cause significant damage, a heart transplant may be the best option. Levine Children’s is home to the region’s only pediatric heart transplant programs, allowing families in our area to get top care while staying as close to home as possible. We’re also pioneering transplants for patients and donors who have different blood types, to make this lifesaving procedure available for more kids.

Supportive services

Heart tumors can affect every part of your child’s – and your family’s – life. That’s why we offer many support services, including:

  • Camp LUCK. This summer camp is for kids with heart conditions and their siblings. Camp LUCK helps children build a community with other kids who are having similar experiences.

  • Child life specialists. These experts help children and their families understand treatments, get ready for medical procedures and get back to their normal routine after surgery.

  • The HEARTest Yard. This program provides in-home nursing support for children and families as they transition home from the hospital. This program is funded by the Greg Olsen Foundation and was launched after former Carolina Panther’s football player and his wife, Kara, had a baby with a severe heart defect.

  • Cardiac neurodevelopmental program. Some heart conditions may impact how your child’s brain develops, which can lead to issues like learning delays. Our neurodevelopmental team will monitor your child’s brain development and address any challenges they may face.

  • EASE app. For kids who need surgery, our team can use this app to provide live updates during their procedure, helping give families peace of mind.

  • Nurse navigators. These nurses support and build close relationships with each patient and family. They become experts on each child’s condition and medical history, teach parents at-home care, attend appointments to answer questions, discuss treatments and more.

  • Pastoral care. If families wish for spiritual care during their time with us, our on-call chaplains offer support for families of any faith and denomination.

  • Social workers. Social workers support families by helping them find financial assistance, support groups and much more.

  • Nutritionists. Our nutritionists make sure kids get all the nutrients they need to stay strong.

Why choose Levine Children's?

  • Part of a world-class heart program. We're home to some of the region's most experienced heart specialists and surgeons. And we work closely with Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute to give our patients access to the most advanced and effective treatments.

  • Innovative therapies. Levine Children’s is at the forefront of research. This means we’re involved in developing new therapies to help children overcome heart tumors and many other issues. Thanks to this research, eligible patients have access to the newest, most promising therapies before they’re widely available.

  • Top surgery outcomes. Our heart surgeons have some of the region’s best outcomes. That’s one reason why U.S. News and World Report ranks Levine Children’s Hospital among the best children’s hospitals in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery.

  • Lifelong care. When families choose Levine Children’s, they’re choosing quality care for life. For some families, this starts before a child is born if we detect a tumor on an ultrasound. We’ll connect these families with our fetal heart program to create a care plan. Then we’ll support your child as they grow to help them reach their full potential through services like a neurodevelopmental program, a cancer survivorship program and an adult congenital heart program.

The HEARTest Yard Congenital Heart Center

1001 Blythe Blvd., Suite 500
Charlotte, NC 28203

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