Superior Vena Cava Syndrome

A man with a glowing heart beneath his bare chest
Sherman Hemsley
 recently died from a lung cancer complication called superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS).

But what is it?

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According to the National Cancer Institute, superior vena cava syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur when the superior vena cava, a major vein that leads to the heart, is partly blocked.

Your Heart: A Quick 101

The heart is divided into four parts. The right and left atrium make up the top parts of the heart and the right and left ventricle make up the bottom parts of the heart. The right atrium of the heart receives blood from two major veins: The superior vena cava, which returns blood from the upper body to the heart, and the inferior vena cava, which returns blood from the lower body to the heart.