Journal of The Indian Academy of Echocardiography & Cardiovascular Imaging

: 2019  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 189--191

An Extremely Rare Case of Carcinoma Rectum Metastasizing to the Heart

Rahul Mehrotra, Raj Kumar, Showkat Hussain Bhat, Bharat Bansal, Jaiveer Singh Khatri, Malay Raj 
 Department of Non Invasive Cardiology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Rahul Mehrotra
Max Super Speciality Hospital, 2, Press Enclave Road, Saket, New Delhi - 110 017


The incidence of cardiac metastases has increased over the last 3 decades. The commonest source of cardiac metastasis however remain the lungs and breast. Pericardium is the most commonly involved part of heart in metastatic disease. We report an extremely rare case of carcinoma rectum with metastasis to right ventricle and inferior vena cava through hematogenous route.

How to cite this article:
Mehrotra R, Kumar R, Bhat SH, Bansal B, Khatri JS, Raj M. An Extremely Rare Case of Carcinoma Rectum Metastasizing to the Heart.J Indian Acad Echocardiogr Cardiovasc Imaging 2019;3:189-191

How to cite this URL:
Mehrotra R, Kumar R, Bhat SH, Bansal B, Khatri JS, Raj M. An Extremely Rare Case of Carcinoma Rectum Metastasizing to the Heart. J Indian Acad Echocardiogr Cardiovasc Imaging [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jun 5 ];3:189-191
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Cardiac tumors are among the most challenging disease entities to diagnose because of their rarity and their highly variable and usually nonspecific clinical presentations. Although primary cardiac tumors are rare (generally between 0.01% and 0.1% on postmortem analysis), the frequency of secondary metastatic tumors to the pericardium, myocardium, great vessels, or coronary arteries is between 0.7% and 3.5% at autopsy in the general population and up to 9.1% in patients with known malignancies.[1],[2],[3],[4] In a study, 41.2% of patients with multiple distant metastases were also found to have cardiac involvement.[5] The incidence of cardiac metastases has increased over the last 3 decades, perhaps due to increased life expectancy in cancer patients owing to the advances in cancer diagnosis and management.[4]

Symptoms from cardiac metastasis are generally seen in advanced stage and portend poor prognosis. Cardiac metastasis of carcinoma rectum is an extremely rare occurrence. Here, we present a case of carcinoma rectum with metastasis in the inferior vena cava (IVC) and involving right ventricle (RV) but sparing the right atrium (RA) or the pericardium.

 Clinical Presentation

A 48-year-old male presented to us with a history of progressive exertional dyspnea (NYHA class III) associated with palpitations for the past 2 weeks. He had been diagnosed with carcinoma rectum and treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy 6 years ago. His vitals, general physical examination, and blood investigations were unremarkable. His chest X-ray and electrocardiogram were also in the normal range.

His transthoracic echocardiography, however, showed a large mass (size ~ 6.5 cm × 5.5 cm), with heterogeneous echotexture in the right ventricular cavity (almost completely filling the cavity) [Figure 1] and [Figure 2]. The RA was clear and without any mass [Figure 3], but the IVC was also filled with this solid mass [Figure 4]. The RA and RV were dilated, but the left atrium and ventricle were of normal size. Biventricular systolic function was normal. There was small pericardial effusion.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}{Figure 4}

He subsequently underwent whole-body18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography-computed tomography (18 F-FDG PET-CT) scan which revealed diffuse increased FDG uptake in the RV reaching up to the main pulmonary trunk [Figure 5] along with few FDG-avid nodules in the right lung (maximal 1.6 cm × 1.1 cm) and in the right hilum (maximal 2.8 cm × 2.3 cm). In the abdominal scan, diffuse FDG uptake was seen in the length of IVC extending from L2 vertebra, involving the entire intrahepatic IVC [Figure 6] along with right renal vein and in the right adrenal region (4.3 cm × 4.0 cm). Both the kidneys were normal in size, shape, and attenuation, and there was no abnormal FDG uptake noted in liver parenchyma. The patient underwent excision of the mass from RV and supradiaphragmatic part of IVC, but succumbed to multiorgan failure 10 days later. Excision biopsy report of the RV mass revealed poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma with thrombus [Figure 7].{Figure 5}{Figure 6}{Figure 7}


Most common malignant neoplasms that involve the pericardium include lung cancer (36%–39% of cardiac metastases), breast cancer (10%–12%), and hematologic malignancies (10%–21%). Melanoma has an unusual proclivity to involve the heart, with estimates of 28%–56% of patients with metastatic melanoma having some cardiac involvement. Epicardial involvement (25%–34%) and myocardial involvement (29%–32%) represent the second and third most common sites of cardiac metastasis[6] and are rare. Depending on their location, cardiac metastases may result in a variety of life-threatening complications including, rarely, cardiac rupture, cardiac tamponade, and sudden death.[7],[8],[9]

Involvement of the superior or IVC can be a prelude to cardiac metastasis. In particular, renal cell and hepatocellular carcinomas may spread via an endovascular route from the IVC to the RA.[1],[3] Hematogenous spread from gastrointestinal malignancies such as the rectum, as in our case, is an extremely rare occurrence.[10],[11]


Cardiac metastasis in malignant tumors is rare but increasing. It is more common in certain malignancies but exceedingly rare in case of carcinoma rectum. Cardiac metastasis usually is asymptomatic until late in the course of the disease, but sometimes may result in symptoms and may be the presenting complaints as in our patient.

Echocardiography is the initial imaging test for the detection of cardiac metastasis, although cardiac magnetic resonance, cardiac CT, and PET/CT may further help characterize and delineate the extent of disease. Treatment of cardiac metastasis depends on their immediate cardiac complications, as well as the clinical context, prognosis, and functional status of the patient.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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