What are lymphomas, endocrine, mesenchymal, and other rare tumors of the mediastinum?

Updated: Feb 16, 2021
  • Author: Mary C Mancini, MD, PhD, MMM; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, MSc, DSc, AGAF  more...
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Because a great many organ systems and varieties of tissues are represented within the mediastinum, tumors that occur in this area can represent many different clinical entities and pathologic processes. Lymphomas, primary or ectopic endocrine tumors, and a wide variety of mesenchymal tumors can occur in the mediastinum. An understanding of the embryology and of the anatomic relations of the normal structures of the mediastinum is essential in the proper determination of the exact nature of a mass or tumor located in this area.

Any discussion of neoplasms or other masses found within the mediastinum requires delineation of the boundaries of that area. Because a number of mediastinal tumors and other masses are most commonly found in particular mediastinal locations, many authors have artificially subdivided the area into following three spaces or compartments for better descriptive localization of specific lesions (see Anatomy):

  • Anterior
  • Middle
  • Posterior

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