Diseases & Conditions
Boston Medical Center specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mediastinal tumors. We combine a highly skilled, multidisciplinary team and state-of-the-art facilities to offer a comprehensive course of treatments for mediastinal tumors, including both open surgery and minimally invasive techniques, such as robotically assisted procedures. Although we offer the latest medical techniques and state-of-the-art equipment, our patient-centered care approach takes priority. We take special care to fully discuss your condition, your treatment options, and prognosis fully, honestly, and with the respect and compassion you and your family deserve.
What is a Mediastinal Tumor?
Normal, healthy cells grow and divide to form new cells as your body needs them. They die when they grow old or become damaged, and they are replaced with new cells. Sometimes, new cells form when your body does not need them, and old or damaged cells do not die when they should. The buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. Tumor cells can be malignant, meaning cancerous, or benign, meaning non-cancerous.
The mediastinum is the part of your chest cavity that separates your lungs. Your heart, aorta (your body's largest artery), esophagus, thymus (one of your glands), trachea, lymph nodes, and nerves are contained within the mediastinum, which is bordered by your breastbone (sternum) in front, your spine in back, and your lungs on either side. Mediastinal tumors are growths that form in this area. They can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). Because some mediastinal tumors tend to grow in specific areas of the mediastinum, physicians often divide it into three sections:
There are different types of mediastinal tumors based on the types of cells from which the tumor grows. The main types of mediastinal tumors are:
What are the Symptoms?
About 40 percent of people with mediastinal tumors experience no symptoms at all. Most mediastinal tumors are discovered during a test for another reason. When symptoms occur, however, they often result from compression of the surrounding structures and may include:
What Causes Mediastinal Tumors?
The cause of mediastinal tumors is often unknown. Although the cause may be unknown, certain kinds of mediastinal tumors may be associated with other conditions. For example, thymoma can be associated with other conditions, such as myasthenia gravis, polymyositis, lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroiditis.