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By Bernard Crawford, M.D.

Most mediastinal tumors have an excellent prognosis when paired with the correct treatment. Occasionally, tumors with benign characteristics and location are identified that do not require treatment.

Treatment varies from surgical resection alone to chemotherapy, alone or in combination with radiation therapy. Frequently a combination of these modalities is used to achieve a complete cure.

Surgical therapy may be used for a curative resection or biopsy of the lesion. Mediastinal tumors are located in an area surrounded by the heart, lungs and great vessels, making an experienced hand essential in any surgical intervention. To provide the best chances for complete cure, a thoracic surgeon should perform the surgical procedure.

There are a variety of surgical approaches for resection of a mediastinal tumor. The choice is critical and depends upon the location of the lesion. NYU's experienced thoracic surgeons will discuss the necessary intervention and explain the risks and benefits of the advised approach.

Our highest priority is the safe, complete removal of the tumor without interruption of the tumor capsule. Any damage to the tumor capsule may result in inadvertent spreading of an otherwise controlled and local problem. Minimally invasive techniques and thoracoscopy may have a role in the some treatments, such as for neurogenic tumors, but are generally to be avoided in the treatment of thymomas.