Globally, cancer is a major health issue, responsible for one out of every six deaths. While new treatment techniques have shown promising results, it’s a long way before such treatments are made available to the masses. Some of the most common cancers are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, melanoma of the skin, leukemia, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer and liver cancer. As is evident, cancer can affect almost all parts of the body.
However, if you read carefully, you will notice that heart is not there in the list of most common cancers. It makes us wonder why heart remains largely protected from cancer, even when it’s among the most important organs of the body. Here are some facts that explain why heart cancer is so rare.
How rare is heart cancer?
As per estimates, tumors that originate in the heart are as low as 1.38 for every 100,000 people every year. Statistically, number of heart cases are so low that it cannot be determined to occur at a measurable rate. Experts say that a heart surgeon might encounter a case of heart cancer only around once in their entire career.
Type of tissue
One of the key things that makes heart unique is the nature of its tissue. Heart largely comprises of connective tissue, which is not prone to cancerous growth. That’s because cell division is very little in connective tissue. Heart cells don’t replicate unless there is a need to repair, arising from any type of injury. Since there is so little cell division, the heart remains largely protected from cancer.
For cancer to spread, it will need epithelial tissue that is consistently producing new cells. Epithelial tissue can be found in most organs such as breast, colon, skin, prostate, pancreas, stomach, esophagus, etc. As epithelial cells are constantly making new cells, it provides a breeding ground for cancer cells to grow and replicate.
Limited exposure to carcinogens
As compared to other parts of the body, the heart has limited exposure to carcinogens. These are substances that have potential to cause cancer in living tissue. The only carcinogens heart may be exposed to are the ones present in the blood. In comparison, body parts such as skin, colon, stomach, liver and lungs face much greater exposure to carcinogens on an everyday basis.
While you are unlikely to be affected by heart cancer, there are several other things to worry about. For example, heart is prone to various health issues such as hypertension and atherosclerotic disease. Your heart can also experience issues with its pumping function and electrical system. Due to these factors, it is imperative that you take proper care of your heart. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding junk food, regular exercise and good sleep can help reduce risk of heart disease.