Types of Chest Wall Tumors
Tumors can arise from any different type of cell, including bone, muscle, and nerve cells. Non-cancerous chest wall tumors are relatively common and are treated only when they cause problems, such as breathing difficulties or pain. Cancerous chest wall tumors are rare and must be treated.
Non-cancerous tumors include:
- fibrous dysplasia
These types of tumors tend to run in families, but most present no cause for alarm and often remain undetected.
Cancerous tumors are usually sarcomas, which originate from soft tissue, cartilage, and/or bone in the chest. These cancerous tumors are categorized into two groups, depending on their origin:
Primary tumors begin in the chest. Secondary tumors have spread (metastasize) from other parts of the body or directly extend into the chest wall from an adjacent breast or lung cancer.
Watch as Jules Lin, MD, explains more about chest wall tumors
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) usually can zero in on the location and size of the tumor, as well as give some information about what type of tumor it is.
CT scan reveals tumor in the chest wall (arrows)
In the below video, Jules Lin, MD provides additional information on tests that can help diagnose a chest wall tumor and determine its size and location.
After a chest wall tumor is detected, your physician may want a biopsy to get more information about what type of tumor you have.
The most common procedure is an aspiration biopsy, where a needle is inserted into the tumor and cells are removed for examination. If it is too difficult to reach the tumor with a needle, you may need to undergo an open biopsy, which requires a small surgical incision and may leave a scar.
For more information on these tests, visit our common diagnostic tests page.
Your treatment plan will take into account the type of chest wall tumor you have, its size, and location. Malignant chest wall tumors may require a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or surgery.
If surgery is required, you also may need chest wall (ribs) or soft-tissue (muscle and skin) reconstruction so that your chest looks and functions normally.
Examples of chest wall reconstruction.
Chest wall resections (removal of any chest wall structure) often cause more pain and require a longer healing period than other chest operations.
Reviewed by: Robbin G. Cohen, MD, with assistance from John Hallsten and Travis Schwartz
Previously reviewed by: Rishindra Reddy, MD and Jules Lin, MD