Expertise in Caring for Mediastinal Tumors

Tumors are abnormal growths of tissue that can occur anywhere in the body. While tumors are usually associated with cancer (malignant), some are non-cancerous (benign). Therefore it is extremely important for your doctor to identify if it is cancerous or not to determine the best way to treat your condition.

The mediastinal is the central area of the chest, surrounded by the breastbone, spine, and lungs. This area contains the heart, aorta, esophagus, thymus, and trachea. Mediastinal tumors develop in one of three areas of the mediastinum: the anterior (front), the middle, or the posterior (back). The position of the tumor in the mediastinum typically depends on the patient’s age.

Children are more likely to develop them in the back of the mediastinum. These are often benign, or noncancerous. Adults are more likely to develop them in the front of the mediastinum. These tumors are typically malignant, or cancerous. Affected adults are usually between the ages of 30 and 50. As a whole, mediastinal tumors are very rare.

Types of Mediastinal Tumors & Their Causes

The mediastinum is divided into three sections, the anterior (front), middle, and posterior (back). The cause of the tumor generally depends on where it forms.

Causes of anterior mediastinum tumors:

  • Thymoma: This is the most common type of anterior tumor. These tumors surround the fibrous in the mediastinal. Most are benign, but the malignant ones are very aggressive.
  • Lymphoma: This is a type of cancer that begins in the immune system. There are two types: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • Thyroid mass: This mass usually forms from a goiter. Thyroid masses are usually benign.

Causes of middle mediastinum tumors:

  • Bronchogenic cyst: This is a benign congenital (present at birth) growth that is part of a series of respiratory congenital conditions.
  • Pericardial cyst: These are rare benign cysts that come from an “out-pouching” of the heart’s lining.
  • Tracheal & esophageal tumors: These are tumors located on the trachea or esophagus. Can be benign or malignant.

Causes of posterior mediastinium tumors:

  • Neurogenic tumor: These tumors develop on the nerves and are usually benign. Can often be found on the side of the backbone.
  • Lymphadenopathy: This is a condition that causes the lymph nodes to swell.

Symptoms of Mediastinal Tumors

In most cases, mediastinal tumors do not have any noticeable symptoms. However, once the tumor grows, symptoms can include the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent headaches
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Recurring lung problems like bronchitis or respiratory infections
  • Persistent fatigue

Diagnosis of Mediastinal Tumors

Screenings are typically performed through a routine check-up even if no symptoms are present. Your doctor will also schedule a screening, if you are showing any symptoms or are exposed to certain risk factors. Typically, based on your doctor’s assessment, you will have or more of the following:

Diagnostic tests and procedures

  • Chest x-rays
  • Computed tomography (CT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positon-emission tomography (PET)
  • Tissue biopsy

Treatment of Mediastinal Tumors

There are many different approaches to treating mediastinal tumors. The right option for you depends on where the tumor formed and what caused it. In the early stages, doctors usually choose to monitor the tumor to see if it will cause any problems before recommending a treatment that could be unnecessary. Some treatment options include:

Lifestyle changes

  • Avoid smoking
  • Test your home for radon
  • Avoid carcinogens at work
  • Make and keep appointments to see your doctor for routine check-ups and follow-up tests.

Medical and Surgical procedures

As a premier New Jersey cancer hospital network, we offer the breadth of expertise and an innovative, comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating mediastinal tumors with the latest technology. Our oncologists work together to properly evaluate each patient on a case-by-case basis. This lets us partner with you to devise the best care plan and outcome possible.

To contact one of New Jersey’s best lung and thoracic cancer specialists call
844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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