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Mediastinal Tumour (Thymoma)

Mediastinal Tumour (Thymoma)

Thymomas are malignant tumors that arise in the thymus gland, typically in the anterior mediastinum.

What is Mediastinal Tumour (Thymoma)?

Mediastinal Tumours (also called neoplasms) are masses of cells. They can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Mediastinal tumors are growths that form in the area of your chest between your lungs.

This area, called the mediastinum, is surrounded by your breastbone in front, your spine in back and your lungs on each side. Your mediastinum contains your heart, aorta, esophagus, thymus, thyroid, trachea, lymph nodes and nerves. Your thymus is an organ that’s part of your immune system. Your lymph system, or lymphatic system, is also part of your immune system and helps protect your body.

the mediastinum

What types of Mediastinal Tumours are there?

The mediastinum is the part of the chest that lies between the sternum and the spinal column, and between the lungs. This area contains the heart, large blood vessels, windpipe (trachea), thymus gland, esophagus, and connective tissues.


The mediastinum is divided into three sections:

  • Anterior (front)

  • Middle

  • Posterior (back)

Mediastinal tumors are rare. But the most common location for tumors in the mediastinum depends on the age of the person.


In children, tumors are more common in the posterior mediastinum. These tumors often begin in the nerves and are noncancerous (benign).

Most mediastinal tumors in adults occur in the anterior mediastinum. They are usually cancerous (malignant) lymphomas, germ cell tumors, or thymomas. These tumors are most common in middle aged and older adults.

What are the symptoms of Mediastinal Tumours?

Almost one half of mediastinal tumors cause no symptoms and are found on a chest x-ray done for another reason. Symptoms that do occur are due to pressure on (compression of) local structures and may include:

  • Chest pain

  • Fever and chills

  • Cough

  • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)

  • Hoarseness

  • Night sweats

  • Shortness of breath

How to treat Mediastinal Tumours?

Treatment for mediastinal tumors depends on the type of tumor and symptoms:

  • Thymic cancers are treated with surgery. It may be followed by radiation or chemotherapy, depending on the stage of the tumor and the success of the surgery.

  • Germ cell tumors are usually treated with chemotherapy.

  • For lymphomas, chemotherapy is the treatment of choice, and is possibly followed by radiation.

  • For neurogenic tumors of the posterior mediastinum, surgery is the main treatment.

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