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Cysts and Tumors of the Pleura


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The pleura are membranes that cover your lungs and the inside of your chest wall. They help cushion your lungs so that the lungs move easily as you breathe.

Though it is rare, tumors and cysts can develop in the pleura, affecting your breathing. Malignant (cancerous) tumors are most mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Some pleural tumors are also caused by cancer spreading (metastasizing) from the lungs or other areas of the body.

Sometimes benign, fluid-filled cysts can develop on the pleura. While these are not cancerous, they can make it difficult to breathe or cause chest pain. Both malignant and benign tumors and cysts can cause pleural effusion or fluid build-up in the lungs.

At Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a team of multidisciplinary experts perform advanced surgical procedures to remove or shrink pleural tumors using surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. They work to control symptoms, such as fluid build-up, and restore your ability to breathe easily.


Chest X-ray
This test examines your lungs and chest wall 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 the location and characteristics of a pleural tumor and if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the chest. It also helps your doctor find fluid buildup in 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.

A biopsy is a procedure to take a sample of tissue from a pleural tumor to examine under a microscope. Fine-needle aspiration takes a small sample from the pleural space, and a core-needle biopsy involves a small incision and X-ray or ultrasound imaging to guide a needle to take a larger tissue sample.

This procedure examines your chest wall and takes 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.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy malignant cancer cells in the pleura. You might take chemotherapy as pills or intravenously (through an IV).

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses highly targeted beams of radiation to destroy cancer cells.

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

Thoracic surgery
Surgeons can remove early-stage or small pleural tumors or cysts with advanced surgical techniques. However, some metastatic tumors cannot be removed. Surgeons may offer you procedures to prevent the cancerous fluid for building up again after thoracentesis. Pleurodesis is usually performed via thoracoscopy and includes the administration of talc to seal the space in between your lungs and your ribs. Another alternative is the insertion of a pleural catheter that could be drained at home if the buildup fluid is causing shortness of breath.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. Early detection of lung cancer with a low-dose computed tomography (CT) and expert multidisciplinary care can potentially boosts lung cancer survival rates by 20% in high-risk patients.

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

Advanced radiation therapy options, like proton therapy and RapidArc®, offer intensity modulated external radiation therapy (IMRT). Our leading-edge technology offers shorter treatment times, pinpoint accuracy in tumor targeting, and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

More cancer clinical trials than any other South Florida hospital. If appropriate for your cancer and stage, our clinical trials provide you with the very newest ways to treat and potentially cure your cancer.

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