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Mediastinal Tumors - Treatments  

How are Mediastinal Tumors Treated?

Mediastinal tumor treatment depends on whether or not the tumor is cancerous, its stage, and your overall health.

After taking all of these factors into consideration, your surgeon may recommend:

Surgery and Minimally Invasive Procedures

At BMC, our thoracic oncologists can help treat mediastinal tumors through several procedures. The goal of mediastinal surgery is to remove the tumor and spare as much of the healthy tissue as possible.

The surgical techniques to remove mediastinal tumors include:

Surgical Resection

In mediastinal tumor resection, the surgeon removes (resects) some or all of a tumor. There are several types of mediastinal tumor resection, including:

  • Sternotomy, in which the surgeon makes a large incision in the center of your chest and separates the sternum (breastbone) to gain access to your mediastinum. The surgeon then locates and resects the tumor.
  • Thoracotomy, in which the surgeon makes an incision on the side, the back, or in some cases, between the ribs to gain access to the chest cavity. The surgeon then locates the tumor and removes it.
  • Video-Assisted Thorascopic Surgery (VATS), which is a minimally invasive alternative to open chest surgery in selected cases that involves less pain and recovery time. After giving you a sedative, the physician will make tiny incisions in your chest and then insert a fiber-optic camera called a thorascope as well as surgical instruments. As the physician moves the thorascope around, images that provide important information are projected on a video monitor. The surgeon then locates and removes the tumor or tumors.
  • Robotic-assisted mediastinal tumor resection, in which the surgeon uses a computer-controlled device that moves, positions, and manipulates surgical tools based on the surgeon's movements. The surgeon sits at a computer console with a monitor and the camera provides a three-dimensional view of the heart that is magnified ten times greater than a person's normal vision. The surgeon's hands control the robotic arms to perform the procedure.

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Non-Surgical Cancer Treatments

Surgery or minimally invasive treatments for malignant mediastinal tumors are typically used in combination with other treatments, including:


Using chemotherapeutic drugs to kill cancer cells is often used after surgery, alone, or in combination with other treatments. These medications are given orally in pill form or intravenously, through a needle or catheter in your arm or a long-term catheter called a port put under the skin on your chest.

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Radiation (or radiotherapy) may be given prior to or after surgery and in combination with chemotherapy. High-energy waves are applied to the chest area to kill cancer cells.

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