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Mediastinal Tumors of the Chest


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The mediastinum is the cavity between your lungs that contains your heart and its blood vessels, part of your windpipe and your thymus gland. Lung cancers typically spread to the lymph nodes in the mediastinum.

The most common types of mediastinal tumors include:

  • Tumors of the thymus: Part of the immune system, your thymus gland helps protect your body from infection. The major types of thymus tumors include thymomas (develop on the surface of the thymus gland), thymic carcinoma (an aggressive, recurrent cancer) and thymic carcinoids (neuroendocrine cancers).
  • Lymphomas: Cancers of the lymph glands can develop in the mediastinum either as the primary cancer or as part of more widespread disease.
  • Neurogenic tumors: These begin in cells that make up the nervous system. In adults, most of these tumors aren't cancerous and can be treated successfully with surgery.
  • Germ cell tumors: These form from embryologically immature cells.
  • Mesenchymal tumors: These develop from mesenchymal cells, a type of stem cell, in the connective tissue. Sarcoma is a type of cancer that arises from mesenchymal cells.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.

Robotic video-assisted surgery program ranked among top 10 in the Southeast. Our excellent surgeons use robotic video-assisted technology to improve patient outcomes, including decreased blood loss in surgery, shorter hospital stays, and higher survival rates on average for appropriate patients.

Advanced radiation oncology tools.Sylvester is one of only five medical centers in the country with ViewRay™ — MRI-guided radiation therapy. Our RapidArc® radiotherapy system delivers intensity modulated external radiation therapy (IMRT). These tools lead to more efficient and effective treatments, shorter treatment times, pinpoint accuracy in tumor targeting, and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

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Treatment is determined by the type and location of the mediastinal tumor:

  • Thymic cancer is treated with surgery as a standalone treatment or followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy, depending on tumor stage and the success of the surgery.
  • Germ cell tumors are usually treated with chemotherapy.
  • Lymphomas are most often treated with chemotherapy, followed by radiation therapy.
  • Neurogenic tumors of the posterior mediastinum are treated with surgery.


  • Chest X-ray

    This test examines your lungs and chest cavity for abnormalities. It’s frequently used as a screening test for any abnormality that needs to be further characterized.

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan of the Chest

    CT scans of the chest provide details about a cancer’s location, characteristics of the tumor(s), and the status of lymph nodes within the chest. It helps your doctor detect any abnormal fluid accumulation within your chest cavity.

  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan/CT Scan

    This scan is the standard diagnostic test for chest cancers to determine the extent of the cancer.

  • Biopsy

    Getting a small sample of the tumor (biopsy) can be done with a needle or using a surgical core biopsy under image guidance. Our pathologists review the sample under advanced microscopes to determine the cellular characteristics. An intra-operative biopsy can also be performed during the chest cancer surgery to decrease the risk and inconvenience of a pre-operative biopsy using approaches such as thoracoscopy, thoracentesis, mediastinoscopy, and others.

  • Thoracoscopy

    This procedure is used for examining your chest cavity and taking samples of suspicious areas. Your doctor makes a small incision between two ribs and inserts a thin tube with a light (thoracoscope) to perform the procedure.

  • Thoracentesis

    During a thoracentesis, your doctor uses a needle to gather fluid from the space between the lining of your chest and your lungs.

  • Mediastinoscopy

    This procedure is used to view the lymph nodes below your neck and take samples. Your doctor makes a small incision at the top of your breastbone and inserts a thin, tube-like instrument to do the procedure.

  • Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

    This new technology allows the interventional pulmonologist to look for cancers farther out from the lung and biopsy nodules seen with a CT or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. It’s useful in visualizing central lymph nodes near the major airways.

  • Light Microscopy

    Light microscopy is the use of a high-powered microscope to look at tissue samples for certain changes in cells, which can help diagnose cancer.

  • Immunohistochemistry

    This test uses antibodies to look for certain antigens in a tissue sample to diagnose cancer. It can also help your doctor determine the type of cancer you have.

  • Tumor Genetic Mutation Analysis

    This test identifies genetic makeup of the tumor to help your doctor predict how your body will respond to treatment, such as targeted therapy medicines.

  • Cytologic Exam

    This type of lab evaluation uses a microscope to check cells for any abnormalities or signs of cancer.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.