Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Mediastinal Tumors

The exact cause of mediastinal tumors is currently not known, but they can be related to certain risk factors. Age, gender, ethnicity, immune deficiency, gene mutations and infection can all factors in the development of lymphomas.

Thymoma, or tumors of the thymus, is also related to a variety of autoimmune diseases, including:

Diagnosing mediastinal tumors

Some of the most commonly-used tests to diagnose mediastinal tumors include:

  • Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray can help identify any growths in the mediastinum.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: This test combines X-ray and computer technology to produce detailed cross-sectional images of your chest cavity for a more accurate diagnosis.
  • CT-guided needle biopsy: During a CT scan, a needle will be inserted into the tumor and some cells will be removed for study under a microscope.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) creates detailed images of organs and other body structures using a large magnet, a computer and radiofrequencies. Unlike computed tomography (CT or CAT) scans or X-rays, MRI does not use radiation.
  • Mediastinoscopy with biopsy: Your surgeon will make a small incision in your neck just above your breastbone and insert an endoscope, (a thin, flexible tube with a scalpel attached) to take a small sample of the tumor tissue.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A PET scan allows your physician to check for diseases in your body using a special dye with radioactive tracers.

Diagnostic Tests