Pediatric chest tumors


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What are pediatric chest tumors?

Most malignant tumors of the chest involve the thymus and are classified as thymoma or thymic carcinomas. Many thymomas are benign though other chest tumors exhibit a range of malignant potential.

Thymus tumors

Thymus tumors are usually found in the anterior mediastinum. A child may have a cough, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath and chest pain or tightness.

Thymic carcinoma

Thymic carcinoma is much more likely to invade tissue and metastasize (spread). The cancer has several subtypes and is extremely rare in children.

What are different types of pediatric chest tumors?

Tumors of the chest that occur in children include:

Extragonadal germ cell tumors

These cell tumors are rare, but often misdiagnosed. They can form along the child’s midline, including the mediastinal area. Extragonadal germ cell tumors are more common in boys than girls and usually occur in young adults. Diagnosing them is difficult and includes ruling out gonadal origin.

Hodgkin lymphoma

This may first be noted by swollen lymph nodes in the chest and underarm. It is more common for adolescents and young adults to have mediastinal involvement in Hodgkin lymphoma than for young children.


This is a common pediatric solid tumor and can occur in the nerve tissue of the posterior chest cavity.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

This can also have mediastinal involvement. Those who do often have a poorer outcome than adults who have mediastinal signs of disease.


These are rare soft tissue tumors that can arise in the trunk and chest wall.

How are pediatric chest tumors diagnosed?

Chest tumors are diagnosed with one or more of the following:

Computed Tomography (CT)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Tissue biopsy

This will confirm a chest tumor diagnosis.

How are pediatric chest tumors treated?

Treatment of childhood chest tumors is complex.

If you detect a chest mass in a young patient, you will want to turn to pediatric oncologists, pediatric surgeons and other specialists who can manage the complex cancers. Children’s Health is staffed by expert and experienced specialists who are on the faculty at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is a world-class and nationally recognized leader in pediatric cancer research.

Pediatric chest tumors doctors and providers