Pediatric thoracic tumor

Pediatric thoracic tumor


Pediatric thoracic tumor is either malignant or benign tumors that occur and affect the chest cavity in children. Most forms of malignant or cancerous tumors include the thymus and can be categorized as thymic carcinomas or thymoma. However, various types of thymomas are non-cancerous or benign, although other thoracic tumors exhibit a certain degree of malignancy possibility. 

The chest cavity is typically made up of the heart, thymus gland, trachea or windpipe, large blood vessels, and connective tissue of the lungs. The chest wall masses that develop among infants and children can be secondary tumors. Moreover, they can also be a result of other various cancers that have advanced and metastasize. 


Types of Pediatric Thoracic Tumors 

The commontypes of pediatric thoracic tumors that occur among children include; 

  • Neuroblastoma 

This is a common childhood thoracic tumor that can develop in the nerve tissue within the posterior thoracic cavity. Neuroblastoma is most common in children aged five and below, but it can sometimes occur in older children as well. Certain types of neuroblastomas disappear on their own, and others may need various treatments. 

  • Extragonadal germ cell tumors

There are uncommon types of thoracic tumors but are sometimes misdiagnosed. Extragonadal germ cell tumors may develop along the midline of the child, including the mediastinal region. They are more prevalent among boys, unlike in girls and normally develop in adolescents. It isn't easy to diagnose these conditions, and this involves ruling out the origin of gonadal.  

  • Rhabdomyosarcomas 

These are uncommon soft tissue tumors that may form along the chest wall and in the trunk. Rhabdomyosarcomas are generally aggressive and grow from mesenchymal cells that have not completely differentiated into skeletal muscle myocytes. The tumor cells are known as rhabdomyoblasts.

  • Hodgkin lymphoma

This is a type of lymphoma in which the early signs include swollen lymph nodes in the underarm and chest. Adolescents and young adults are more likely to have mediastinal involvement with Hodgkin lymphoma compared to young children. 

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 

Young children and teenagers might as well have mediastinal involvement. Most children who have mediastinal involvement frequently have a worse result, unlike adults with mediastinal disorder signs. 


Causes of Pediatric Thoracic Tumor 

Cancer develops as a result of cumulative damage or impairment to cellular DNA. Genes tend to mutate when they get affected or damaged. These mutations result in irregular cell progression, which can then spread across the body. When this premature development occurs in the chest cavity, thoracic tumors or cancers emerge. 

Medical experts do not understand well the actual cause and triggers of tumors, including thoracic tumors. Various biological factors can lead to damage to the cells and increase cancer risk. They include the genes where particular cancers run in the lineage, hormones, and age. 

Some other risk factors include sunlight radiation exposure or cancer-causing (carcinogenic) chemicals such as asbestos or radioactive component. Furthermore, lifestyle aspects such as diet and bodyweight all play a part in thoracic tumor development. 


Signs and Symptoms of Pediatric Thoracic Tumor 

Signs and Symptoms of Pediatric Thoracic Tumor 

Pediatric thoracic tumor symptoms and signs vary depending on the particular type of tumor and the affected tissues. During the early stages, most children do not experience any symptoms. This makes it difficult to diagnose the condition until it reaches the advanced phase. 

If the symptoms of thoracic tumor do occur, then they can include the following; 

  • Chest pain that aggravates when taking deep breathing, coughing, or laughing 
  • Changes in the chronic cough 
  • Coughing up blood, rusty colored or bloody mucus 
  • The emergence of a cough that doesn’t improve or becomes worse over time
  • The appearance of bumps or small growths on the chest regions 
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue and weakness 
  • Hoarseness 
  • Heartburn, vomiting, or ingestion
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath 
  • Unexplainable weight loss 
  • Loss of appetite 


Pediatric Thoracic Tumor Diagnosis 

The healthcare provider can suggest screening for children at a higher risk or who have a family history of thoracic tumors. This is regardless of whether there are any associated signs and symptoms or not. Such screening tests usually aim at assessing and identifying abnormalities in the child’s chest cavity. 

Overall, the diagnostic tests and procedures of the pediatric thoracic tumor can include the following; 

  • Physical examination 

This is usually the first diagnostic procedure to determine thoracic tumors in children. The doctor can feel the chest area for lumps that could be tumors. He or she may also check for anomalies that may signify the existence of tumors. This includes variations of skin color and enlargement of the organ.

  • Chest x-rays 

Doctors use this method to obtain images of the chest cavity and the organs within. It includes the heart, blood vessels, and air paths. With this, the doctors can easily identify an underlying tumor affecting the thoracic area, the contents, and the surrounding structures. 

  • Imaging tests 

Imaging tests enable the doctor to analyze the chest cavity and surrounding organs or structures in a non-invasive manner. Examples of the imaging tests to diagnose pediatric thoracic tumor include; 

Computerized tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan takes a sequence of pictures of the chest cavity from various angles using an x-ray scanner connected to a monitor. These images are then used to create accurate, detailed 3-dimensional pictures of the chest cavity interior.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI technique captures images of the body in slices using a strong magnetic field and radio waves. The slices are then used to produce precise pictures of the interior of the chest cavity. Besides, it can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy tissue. 


Other types of imaging tests include;

  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan 
  • Ultrasound 
  • Bones scans 


  • Sputum analysis 

Pediatricians can recommend sputum analysis if the child has a cough that produces sputum. It involves examining the sputum under a microscope to check for the presence of a thoracic tumor or cancerous cells.

  • Biopsy 

A biopsy is a diagnostic technique that involves the removal of a sample of unhealthy cells. The doctor can conduct a biopsy in various ways, including; 

Bronchoscopy: This involves inspecting unhealthy parts in the lungs with an illuminated tube passed down through the throat and into the chest cavity.

Mediastinoscopy: This is a procedure in which an incision is created at the bottom of the neck. The surgical instruments are placed behind the breastbone to collect tissue samples from lymph nodes. 

Needle biopsy: This is another procedure in which the doctor uses images from the CT scan or x-ray. This helps the doctor to direct a needle through the chest wall and extract suspicious or abnormal cells. 


Pediatric Thoracic Tumor Treatment Options 

Pediatric thoracic tumor treatment is quite complex. The doctor can develop a treatment plan, depending on various factors. It can include the child’s overall health, age, the type of thoracic tumor and stage, and preference. 

Therefore, the treatment options for childhood thoracic tumor can include;


This is a standard treatment for addressing childhood thoracic tumors. It aims at taking out the tumor or as much of the cancerous cells as possible. This helps prevent the condition from developing or advancing and spreading to other parts of the body. 



This involves the use of medications to destroy the tumor cells. The doctor can administer one or more chemotherapy medication intravenously into a vein in the arm or orally. A mixture of drugs is normally administered in a sequence of therapies for weeks or months. This includes several breaks in between to enable you to recover. Alternatively, chemotherapy can be used before the surgical operation to shrink the tumor, making it easy to extract. 

Radiation therapy: 

This treatment approach aims to kill tumor cells by delivering high-energy beams from sources like protons and x-ray. The doctor will ask the child to lie on a table during radiation therapy. The machine will then rotate around the body while directing radiation to the chest cavity. 

Radiation therapy can be recommended before or after surgery for people with locally advanced thoracic tumors. It is also used in conjunction with chemotherapy treatment. When the surgical operation is not an alternative, the doctor can use a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy as the primary treatment. 

Targeted drug therapy: 

Targeted drug therapies target various mutations found in the tumor cells. Cancerous cells may be destroyed with targeted drug therapies that inhibit these anomalies. Doctors can use multiple targeted therapy medications to address thoracic. However, the majority are reserved for patients with chronic or recurring tumors. 


Other childhood thoracic tumor treatment options include;

  • Immunotherapy 
  • Hormone therapy 
  • Bone marrow transplant 
  • Palliative care 



The pediatric chest tumoris any malignant or benign growth that develops in the glands, structures, or thoracic or chest cavity organs. A child with a thoracic tumor can experience frequent coughing, swallowing difficulties, and chest pain, among other symptoms. It’s thus essential to seek immediate medical attention if you notice such symptoms or suspect a tumor. 

You can always consider the CloudHospital healthcare platform for the best comprehensive treatment and care. It is determined to diagnose, treat, and help all children with any thoracic tumor. Besides, it works with various pediatricians and other children specialists trained to handle childhood conditions accordingly.