An echocardiogram typically is not one of the tests and procedures doctors perform to detect cancer, the National Cancer Institute explains. Nevertheless, the test can detect tumors in the heart, says WebMD. However, not all tumors are cancers, Johns Hopkins Medicine states.
An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to take a picture of the structures within the heart, explains WebMD. Doctors use it to look for abnormalities, such as thickening of the heart muscle, malfunctioning heart valves, the presence of blood clots or other masses or fluid around the heart. It is commonly used when a patient complains of possible cardiac symptoms, such as shortness of breath, unexplained chest pain, or an irregular or pounding heartbeat, WebMD says. Doctors also use it to calculate heart function by determining the amount of blood the heart pumps with each heartbeat, a measure known as ejection fraction. An enlarged heart, which sometimes indicates heart disease, also shows up on an echocardiogram, according to WebMD.
Echocardiograms are sometimes performed on patients before they begin cancer therapy and periodically during treatment. This is because some cancer drugs can damage the heart, causing long-term effects such as an irregular heartbeat or congestive heart failure, Cancer.Net explains.