Heart Tumor Program

The Heart Tumor Program at the Boston Children's Hospital Heart Center is a comprehensive program specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric heart tumors, also called cardiac tumors, as well as other masses involving the heart. Heart tumors are rare in children, and many hospitals see only a few, if any, each year. The team at Boston Children’s treats about one each month.

Our expertise in diagnosing and treating heart tumors

Diagnosing and treating heart tumors can be challenging for many reasons. Because they are rare and there are so many types of tumors, it may be difficult to determine the exact tumor type without a surgical biopsy. Collaborating with other centers across the United States and internationally, our doctors have led research efforts toward understanding how best to diagnose the type of tumor prior to surgery. This has allowed some children to avoid surgery and safely continue a wait-and-see approach. Through this and other work, we continue to develop best practices in managing heart tumors in children.

Our heart center is world-renowned for the reliable high quality images we produce. Our experienced clinicians use advanced imaging techniques, such as cardiac MRI, 2-D and 3-D echocardiography, ultra-fast CT, catheter angiography, and 3-D printing to more accurately evaluate heart tumors.

Because many children with heart tumors also have heart rhythm abnormalities, our heart rhythm specialists are often members of the team. Once the diagnostic evaluation is completed and the tumor diagnosed, the team designs a unique treatment plan that sometimes includes a surgical approach.

We work with referring doctors to understand how the heart tumor was identified and how urgently a child needs evaluation and treatment. We also help determine whether the child needs care at Boston Children’s, or if they can continue to receive treatment at their home center.

Why choose the Heart Tumor Program?

We understand that every child and situation is unique. Because heart tumors are rare, and because there are many different types of heart tumors, every child requires a unique approach guided by past experience. As many children and their families travel to Boston for treatment, we also work closely with referring doctors to ensure a smooth transition back home.

We know that surgical results matter. Surgical removal of a heart tumor can be difficult because tumors may occur in various locations inside and outside of the heart. They may also involve critical structures within the heart, such as valves or coronary arteries. Working closely with our imaging and electrophysiology teams, our surgeons have maintained 100 percent survival among children with non-malignant heart tumors over the past 20 years.

We care about your child, and we care about advancing the field. Our heart tumor team has made a commitment to research and developing ways to diagnose and manage heart tumors in children. We receive many requests for second opinions each year, and continue to develop initiatives aimed at helping this vulnerable group of children.