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Open Access Case report

Isolated cardiac metastasis from plasmacytoid urothelial carcinoma of the bladder

Joshua R Peck1, Charles L Hitchcock2, Sara Maguire3, Jennifer Dickerson4 and Charles Bush45*

Author Affiliations

1 Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, Columbus, OH, USA

2 The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Department of Pathology, Columbus, OH, USA

3 The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH, USA

4 The Ohio State University Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital, Department of Cardiology, Columbus, OH, USA

5 The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, 452 W. 10th Ave, Room H1112, Columbus, 4321, OH, USA

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Experimental Hematology & Oncology 2012, 1:16  doi:10.1186/2162-3619-1-16

Published: 24 June 2012


A 57-year-old male with a history of hypertension presented with shortness of breath, intermittent substernal chest pain, subjective fevers, and a 30-pound weight loss. He was found to have a bladder mass four months prior to presentation, for which he underwent cystoscopy and surgical removal. Pathology demonstrated high-grade superficial plasmacytoid urothelial carcinoma extending into the submucosa but not the muscularis propria. Given the superficial nature of his bladder cancer, a cystectomy was deferred. He was subsequently lost to follow-up care. On arrival, physical exam was notable for tachycardia, tachypnea, and distant heart sounds. An ECG showed an incomplete right bundle branch block and sinus tachycardia. Computed tomography pulmonary angiography revealed a three-cm pericardial effusion. Transthoracic echocardiography confirmed this finding and revealed a mass in the right ventricle (RV) extending into the outflow tract and infiltrating the free wall. The RV was dilated with an estimated RV systolic pressure of 37 mmHg. Pericardiocentesis yielded nearly one liter of serosanguinous fluid with non-diagnostic cytology. Partial median sternotomy with biopsy showed pathologic findings consistent with metastatic urothelial carcinoma, plasmacytoid variant. A PET scan showed increased uptake exclusively in the heart. The oncology team discussed options with the patient including chemotherapy and palliative care. The patient decided to withhold further therapy and went home with hospice care. He died two months later.

Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men in the United States. Most patients (69%) with metastatic bladder cancer have multiple organs involved; conversely, our patient had a PET scan indicating his disease was localized to the heart. Plasmacytoid urothelial carcinoma is a rare subtype of bladder cancer, and is estimated to make up less than three percent of all invasive bladder carcinomas. At the time of this publication we are aware of only three other reported instances of isolated cardiac metastasis with urothelial bladder origin; none of which were the plasmacytoid variant.

This case highlights a previously unreported presentation of plasmacytoid urothelial carcinoma. Clinicians must remember that even superficial cancers can have significant metastatic potential.

Plasmacytoid urothelial carcinoma; PUC; Bladder cancer; Urothelial; Isolated cardiac metastases