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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:

  • Thymus: Your thymus gland is part of your immune system, which helps protect your body from infection. The main types of thymus tumors are 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 are noncancerous tumors that 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 mesenchymal cell cancer.

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 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 offers leading-edge tools that target tumors with pinpoint accuracy, including Proton Therapy, ViewRay® MRI-guided radiation therapy, and RapidArc® intensity-modulated external radiation therapy (IMRT). These image-guided radiation tools provide more effective treatments, shorter treatment times, 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 the location and characteristics of tumors 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.

  • Biopsy

    A biopsy is a procedure to take a sample of tissue from a tumor to examine under a microscope. Fine-needle aspiration takes a small sample, 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. Your doctor may decide to do a biopsy during chest cancer surgery to avoid the risk and discomfort of a thoracoscopy, thoracentesis, or another procedure before surgery.

  • Thoracoscopy

    This procedure examines your chest cavity 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.

  • 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.