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Chest Wall Masses

The chest is a muscular, bony cage that contains and protects your heart, lungs, esophagus, and liver. It includes the rib cage, sternum, and thoracic vertebrae, along with connective tissue and muscles. Tumors can grow in the chest wall—both non-cancerous (b)enign and cancerous (malignant) in nature.

Non-cancerous chest wall tumors are fairly common. They require treatment only when they cause problems, such as pain or difficulty breathing. Types of benign chest wall tumors include osteochondroma, chondroma, and fibrous dysplasia.

Malignant chest wall tumors are much rarer and require treatment. These tumors usually start in the soft tissue, cartilage, or bone of the chest. They may have originated in the chest wall (p)rimary tumors or they may have originated elsewhere in the body and spread to the chest wall (s)econdary tumors.

Symptoms of Chest Wall Tumors

Different types of chest wall tumors cause different symptoms. Some, such as soft-tissue tumors, often don’t cause symptoms until they are in an advanced stage. When symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling or development of a lump or mass
  • Impaired movement
  • Difficulty breathing.


At Norton Thoracic Institute, your doctor may use one or more of the following tests to determine if you have a chest wall tumor:

  • CT or MRI scan
  • Biopsy, either through a needle inserted into the tumor or through surgery.


The diagnostic tests listed above will reveal the size, location, and type of tumor that you have. This information will help your doctor determine the best type of treatment for your chest wall tumor. Many benign tumors require no treatment at all, while some may need to be removed if they cause problems such as interfering with the function of an organ in the chest.

For patients with malignant tumors, a combination of the following treatments may be recommended:

  • Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible
  • Chemotherapy, the use of oral or IV drugs to kill cancer
  • Radiation therapy, the use of high-energy rays to destroy cancer.

Learn  About Services for Chest Wall Masses at Norton Thoracic Institute

To learn more about our services, call (602) 406-4000.