Tumors of the mediastinum

Chest. 2005 Oct;128(4):2893-909. doi: 10.1378/chest.128.4.2893.


Tumors of the mediastinum represent a wide diversity of disease states. The location and composition of a mass is critical to narrowing the differential diagnosis. The most common causes of an anterior mediastinal mass include the following: thymoma; teratoma; thyroid disease; and lymphoma. Masses of the middle mediastinum are typically congenital cysts, including foregut and pericardial cysts, while those that arise in the posterior mediastinum are often neurogenic tumors. The clinical sequelae of mediastinal masses can range from being asymptomatic to producing symptoms of cough, chest pain, and dyspnea. This article will review the anatomy of the mediastinum as well as the different clinical, radiographic, and prognostic features, and therapeutic options of the most commonly encountered masses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / classification
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Teratoma / diagnosis
  • Thymoma / diagnosis
  • Thymus Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnosis