Mediastinal Tumors

Mediastinal tumor care from internationally recognized specialists, right in your community.

Find a Thoracic Surgeon

Mediastinal tumors occur in the tissue that runs down the center of your chest. These tumors are rare and can be hard to diagnose. At Nuvance Health® Cancer Institute, you receive care from internationally recognized specialists who regularly diagnose and treat them.

The team includes doctors who are advancing mediastinal tumor care through research. These efforts give you access to the services that are appropriate for your needs.

What are mediastinal tumors?

Mediastinal tumors are abnormal growths (masses) that may or may not be cancerous. But their location near vital structures makes it important to receive specialized care. And this is exactly what you’ll receive at Nuvance Health.


Mediastinal masses can occur in any of the space’s three sections, including the:

  • Front (anterior), which is closest to the breast bone/sterum and contains the thymus 
  • Middle, which houses organs such as heart and major blood vessels
  • Back (posterior), which is near your spine and includes esophagus and nerves

Mediastinal tumor care at Nuvance Health: Why choose us?

You receive a level of care that's not widely available in New York's Hudson Valley and Western Connecticut. We offer extensive assessments, sophisticated therapies and the support you deserve. Highlights of our program include:

  • International recognition:
    You receive services from world leaders in mediastinal masses. We are developing techniques to diagnose and treat these complex tumors with greater accuracy. And we share our knowledge with doctors all over the world through publications and trainings.
  • Robotic surgery:
    In eligible patients, we use robotic surgical technologies to access and remove these hard-to-reach tumors without disrupting nearby delicate tissue. This option is not widely available on the East Coast. Our experience from performing a high volume of procedures draws referrals from across the region.
  • Personalized care:
    The therapies that are right for you depend in part on the tumor’s location and whether it’s affecting nearby organs. We use specific lab tests, imaging studies and other methods to carefully diagnose the tumor. This information helps us tailor therapies to your needs.
  • Support:
    Mediastinal mass care often requires many appointments to perform tests, discuss findings, and deliver treatments. Nurse navigators make this process a little less stressful. We are here for you with support and assistance that includes scheduling appointments and providing information about what to expect.
Second opinions for mediastinal tumors

Nuvance Health specialists welcome the opportunity to participate in your care. If you have undergone testing or an evaluation elsewhere and would like a second opinion, we are here to help.

A second opinion can confirm your diagnosis and the treatments that are right for your needs. People come to us for second opinions from across the Northeast and overseas

Mediastinal mass symptoms

The symptoms of mediastinal tumors include:

  • Chest pain
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Hoarse voice
  • Persistent coughing or coughing up blood
  • Wheezing, shortness of breath or noisy, high-pitched breathing
  • Unexplained weight loss

Mediastinal tumor types

There are many types of mediastinal tumors, including:

  • Thymomas, the most common, are cancers of the thymus. Many thymoma patients also have a condition causing sudden muscle weakness, myasthenia gravis.
  • Neurogenic tumors form near the posterior part of the mediastinum. They are typically noncancerous but can become large enough to affect your lungs or spinal cord.
  • Foregut cysts are noncancerous, sac-like growths containing fluid or other substances. Small cysts do not cause symptoms. Larger ones typically require surgery.
  • Germ cell tumors usually occur in a man’s testicles or woman’s ovaries. Occasionally, they form in the mediastinum. Cancerous mediastinal germ cell tumors can grow large enough to press on nearby structures.

Mediastinal mass diagnosis

We perform a thorough assessment to determine which tests are necessary to diagnose the tumor and determine its severity (staging). We also consider your age, health history and symptoms.

In eligible patients, additional testing may include:

  • Computed tomography (CT)-guided biopsy: We use real-time imaging to determine the location of the tumor before taking a tissue sample (biopsy). Doctors assess the biopsy using a microscope.
  • Endoscopic or endobronchial ultrasound: After numbing your throat and/or intubation, we insert a thin tube to access the tumor. An ultrasound imaging device at the tip uses soundwaves to capture detailed images.
    • Endoscopic ultrasound is for examining the esophagus and structures around it.
    • Endobronchial ultrasound helps us evaluate airways in the lungs.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This study uses a powerful magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce 3D images of mediastinal tumors.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: This test uses safe levels of radioactive substance and imaging technology to show cell activity. A PET scan may help us see fine details of the tumor that might not be visible with other tests.

Mediastinal tumor treatments

If the tumor is cancerous or dangerously close to vital organs, treatment typically includes surgery. We remove tumors of all sizes, even if they are attached to veins and organs in the mediastinum. For large or complex mediastinal masses, you may undergo an open procedure instead of robotic surgery.


Other services you may need include:

  • Radiation therapy and chemotherapy: Radiation therapy helps shrink the tumor, and chemotherapy or immunotherapy can prevent it from growing. You may receive these treatments before or after surgery, depending on your circumstances. Find out more about radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
  • Palliative procedures: If you can’t have surgery, these procedures may shrink the cancer or tumor to relieve pain. Other procedures remove excess fluid from the lungs, making it easier to breathe. We offer a broad range of options.
  • Supportive care: These services address side effects and complications of treatment. If you have difficulty eating, dietitians recommend methods for getting the nutrients you need and maintaining a healthy weight. Find out more about supportive care.
  • Ongoing monitoring: Tumors can come back even if your initial treatment was successful. Surgeons provide ongoing monitoring to catch the early signs, so you receive timely treatment. If you do not live in the area, you undergo imaging studies near your home. Specialists review the results with you during a virtual visit.