Most cancerous tumors in the chest wall come from other parts of the body
Cancer of the chest wall may arise from a primary malignant tumor, meaning one that forms in the chest wall area itself, or from a metastatic malignant tumor that started in another area and then spread to the chest. Cancer in nearby breast or lung, for example, is sometimes more likely to invade the chest wall. More than 50 percent of malignant chest wall tumors are metastatic.
Primary chest wall tumors are predominantly sarcomas, malignant tumors that form in the bone, soft tissue and skeletal muscle in the chest area.
You may or may not have symptoms depending on the kind of tumor
Tumors in the bone and cartilage of the chest wall are usually painful. If you have a soft-tissue tumor, however, you may not feel any symptoms until the tumor advances and starts to cause pain. Look for these additional symptoms:
- Pressure or soreness in the chest area
- A visible lump on the chest
- Difficulty taking a deep breath (chest constriction)
There are no known causes of chest wall cancer other than the possible relationship between this type of cancer and dietary and lifestyle choices.
Diagnosis and treatment of chest wall cancer
The only way to determine if you have chest wall cancer is to get certain tests performed. Commonly, your doctor may order:
- An X-ray (to determine that there is an abnormal mass)
- A CT scan or MRI (to further understand if tumor is primary or metastatic)
- A biopsy (to determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant)
Depending on whether the tumor is primary or metastatic, and taking into consideration other factors relating to your age and overall health, a combination of treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
Our oncology team at Main Line Health has vast expertise in diagnosing and treating this rare form of cancer. If your symptoms are concerning you, get in touch with us.