Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Unusual Cancers of Childhood Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Thoracic Cancers


Clinical presentation and diagnostic evaluation

Patients may be asymptomatic for long periods. Symptoms may include abnormalities of heart rhythm, enlargement of the heart, fluid in the pericardial sac, and congestive heart failure. Some patients present with sudden death.

The utilization of new cardiac MRI techniques can identify the likely tumor type in the majority of children.[94] However, histologic diagnosis remains the standard for diagnosing cardiac tumors.


Successful treatment may require surgery, including transplantation, and chemotherapy appropriate for the type of cancer that is present.[95,96,97]; [79][Level of evidence: 3iiA]


Incidence and risk factors

Mesothelioma is extremely rare in childhood, with only 2% to 5% of patients presenting during the first two decades of life.[98] Fewer than 300 cases in children have been reported.[99]

This tumor can involve the membranous coverings of the lung, the heart, or the abdominal organs.[100,101,102] These tumors can spread over the surface of organs, without invading far into the underlying tissue, and may spread to regional or distant lymph nodes. Mesothelioma may develop after successful treatment of an earlier cancer, especially after treatment with radiation.[103,104] In adults, these tumors have been associated with exposure to asbestos, which was used as building insulation.[105] The amount of exposure required to develop cancer is unknown, and there is no information about the risk for children exposed to asbestos.


Benign and malignant mesotheliomas cannot be differentiated using histologic criteria. A poor prognosis is associated with lesions that are diffuse and invasive and with those that recur. In general, the course of the disease is slow, and long-term survival is common.

Diagnostic evaluation

Diagnostic thoracoscopy should be considered in suspicious cases to confirm diagnosis.[98]


Radical surgical resection has been attempted with mixed results.[106] Treatment with various chemotherapeutic agents used for carcinomas or sarcomas may result in partial responses.[102,107] Pain is an infrequent symptom; however, radiation therapy may be used for palliation of pain.

Papillary serous carcinoma of the peritoneum is sometimes mistaken for mesothelioma.[108] This tumor generally involves all surfaces lining the abdominal organs, including the surfaces of the ovary. Treatment includes surgical resection whenever possible and use of chemotherapy with agents such as cisplatin, carboplatin, and paclitaxel.

(Refer to the PDQ summary on adult Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment for more information.)


  1. Yu DC, Grabowski MJ, Kozakewich HP, et al.: Primary lung tumors in children and adolescents: a 90-year experience. J Pediatr Surg 45 (6): 1090-5, 2010.
  2. Chung EM, Cube R, Hall GJ, et al.: From the archives of the AFIP: breast masses in children and adolescents: radiologic-pathologic correlation. Radiographics 29 (3): 907-31, 2009 May-Jun.
  3. Jayasinghe Y, Simmons PS: Fibroadenomas in adolescence. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol 21 (5): 402-6, 2009.
  4. Valdes EK, Boolbol SK, Cohen JM, et al.: Malignant transformation of a breast fibroadenoma to cystosarcoma phyllodes: case report and review of the literature. Am Surg 71 (4): 348-53, 2005.
  5. Serour F, Gilad A, Kopolovic J, et al.: Secretory breast cancer in childhood and adolescence: report of a case and review of the literature. Med Pediatr Oncol 20 (4): 341-4, 1992.
  6. Drukker BH: Breast disease: a primer on diagnosis and management. Int J Fertil Womens Med 42 (5): 278-87, 1997 Sep-Oct.
  7. Rogers DA, Lobe TE, Rao BN, et al.: Breast malignancy in children. J Pediatr Surg 29 (1): 48-51, 1994.
  8. Rivera-Hueto F, Hevia-Vázquez A, Utrilla-Alcolea JC, et al.: Long-term prognosis of teenagers with breast cancer. Int J Surg Pathol 10 (4): 273-9, 2002.
  9. Kaste SC, Hudson MM, Jones DJ, et al.: Breast masses in women treated for childhood cancer: incidence and screening guidelines. Cancer 82 (4): 784-92, 1998.
  10. Costa NM, Rodrigues H, Pereira H, et al.: Secretory breast carcinoma--case report and review of the medical literature. Breast 13 (4): 353-5, 2004.
  11. Gutierrez JC, Housri N, Koniaris LG, et al.: Malignant breast cancer in children: a review of 75 patients. J Surg Res 147 (2): 182-8, 2008.
  12. Keegan TH, DeRouen MC, Press DJ, et al.: Occurrence of breast cancer subtypes in adolescent and young adult women. Breast Cancer Res 14 (2): R55, 2012.
  13. Anders CK, Hsu DS, Broadwater G, et al.: Young age at diagnosis correlates with worse prognosis and defines a subset of breast cancers with shared patterns of gene expression. J Clin Oncol 26 (20): 3324-30, 2008.
  14. Gabriel CA, Domchek SM: Breast cancer in young women. Breast Cancer Res 12 (5): 212, 2010.
  15. Metayer C, Lynch CF, Clarke EA, et al.: Second cancers among long-term survivors of Hodgkin's disease diagnosed in childhood and adolescence. J Clin Oncol 18 (12): 2435-43, 2000.
  16. Swerdlow AJ, Barber JA, Hudson GV, et al.: Risk of second malignancy after Hodgkin's disease in a collaborative British cohort: the relation to age at treatment. J Clin Oncol 18 (3): 498-509, 2000.
  17. van Leeuwen FE, Klokman WJ, Veer MB, et al.: Long-term risk of second malignancy in survivors of Hodgkin's disease treated during adolescence or young adulthood. J Clin Oncol 18 (3): 487-97, 2000.
  18. Henderson TO, Amsterdam A, Bhatia S, et al.: Systematic review: surveillance for breast cancer in women treated with chest radiation for childhood, adolescent, or young adult cancer. Ann Intern Med 152 (7): 444-55; W144-54, 2010.
  19. Lal DR, Clark I, Shalkow J, et al.: Primary epithelial lung malignancies in the pediatric population. Pediatr Blood Cancer 45 (5): 683-6, 2005.
  20. Weldon CB, Shamberger RC: Pediatric pulmonary tumors: primary and metastatic. Semin Pediatr Surg 17 (1): 17-29, 2008.
  21. Hancock BJ, Di Lorenzo M, Youssef S, et al.: Childhood primary pulmonary neoplasms. J Pediatr Surg 28 (9): 1133-6, 1993.
  22. Kim SJ, Kim DW, Kim TM, et al.: Remarkable tumor response to crizotinib in a 14-year-old girl with ALK-positive non-small-cell lung cancer. J Clin Oncol 30 (16): e147-50, 2012.
  23. Vadasz P, Palffy G, Egervary M, et al.: Diagnosis and treatment of bronchial carcinoid tumors: clinical and pathological review of 120 operated patients. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 7 (1): 8-11, 1993.
  24. Kulke MH, Mayer RJ: Carcinoid tumors. N Engl J Med 340 (11): 858-68, 1999.
  25. Oliaro A, Filosso PL, Donati G, et al.: Atypical bronchial carcinoids. Review of 46 patients. J Cardiovasc Surg (Torino) 41 (1): 131-5, 2000.
  26. Moraes TJ, Langer JC, Forte V, et al.: Pediatric pulmonary carcinoid: a case report and review of the literature. Pediatr Pulmonol 35 (4): 318-22, 2003.
  27. Al-Qahtani AR, Di Lorenzo M, Yazbeck S: Endobronchial tumors in children: Institutional experience and literature review. J Pediatr Surg 38 (5): 733-6, 2003.
  28. Roby BB, Drehner D, Sidman JD: Pediatric tracheal and endobronchial tumors: an institutional experience. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 137 (9): 925-9, 2011.
  29. Soga J, Yakuwa Y: Bronchopulmonary carcinoids: An analysis of 1,875 reported cases with special reference to a comparison between typical carcinoids and atypical varieties. Ann Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 5 (4): 211-9, 1999.
  30. Fauroux B, Aynie V, Larroquet M, et al.: Carcinoid and mucoepidermoid bronchial tumours in children. Eur J Pediatr 164 (12): 748-52, 2005.
  31. Abuzetun JY, Hazin R, Suker M, et al.: Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the lung with bony metastasis in a 13-year-old boy: case report and review of literature. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 30 (8): 635-7, 2008.
  32. Rizzardi G, Marulli G, Calabrese F, et al.: Bronchial carcinoid tumours in children: surgical treatment and outcome in a single institution. Eur J Pediatr Surg 19 (4): 228-31, 2009.
  33. Lack EE, Harris GB, Eraklis AJ, et al.: Primary bronchial tumors in childhood. A clinicopathologic study of six cases. Cancer 51 (3): 492-7, 1983.
  34. Ahel V, Zubovic I, Rozmanic V: Bronchial adenoid cystic carcinoma with saccular bronchiectasis as a cause of recurrent pneumonia in children. Pediatr Pulmonol 12 (4): 260-2, 1992.
  35. Gaissert HA, Mathisen DJ, Grillo HC, et al.: Tracheobronchial sleeve resection in children and adolescents. J Pediatr Surg 29 (2): 192-7; discussion 197-8, 1994.
  36. Jalal A, Jeyasingham K: Bronchoplasty for malignant and benign conditions: a retrospective study of 44 cases. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 17 (4): 370-6, 2000.
  37. Shivastava R, Saha A, Mehera B, et al.: Pleuropulmonary blastoma: transition from type I (cystic) to type III (solid). Singapore Med J 48 (7): e190-2, 2007.
  38. Hill DA, Jarzembowski JA, Priest JR, et al.: Type I pleuropulmonary blastoma: pathology and biology study of 51 cases from the international pleuropulmonary blastoma registry. Am J Surg Pathol 32 (2): 282-95, 2008.
  39. Priest JR, Magnuson J, Williams GM, et al.: Cerebral metastasis and other central nervous system complications of pleuropulmonary blastoma. Pediatr Blood Cancer 49 (3): 266-73, 2007.
  40. Priest JR, Hill DA, Williams GM, et al.: Type I pleuropulmonary blastoma: a report from the International Pleuropulmonary Blastoma Registry. J Clin Oncol 24 (27): 4492-8, 2006.
  41. Miniati DN, Chintagumpala M, Langston C, et al.: Prenatal presentation and outcome of children with pleuropulmonary blastoma. J Pediatr Surg 41 (1): 66-71, 2006.
  42. Hill DA, Ivanovich J, Priest JR, et al.: DICER1 mutations in familial pleuropulmonary blastoma. Science 325 (5943): 965, 2009.
  43. Slade I, Bacchelli C, Davies H, et al.: DICER1 syndrome: clarifying the diagnosis, clinical features and management implications of a pleiotropic tumour predisposition syndrome. J Med Genet 48 (4): 273-8, 2011.
  44. Priest JR, McDermott MB, Bhatia S, et al.: Pleuropulmonary blastoma: a clinicopathologic study of 50 cases. Cancer 80 (1): 147-61, 1997.
  45. Cross SF, Arbuckle S, Priest JR, et al.: Familial pleuropulmonary blastoma in Australia. Pediatr Blood Cancer 55 (7): 1417-9, 2010.
  46. Gutweiler JR, Labelle J, Suh MY, et al.: A familial case of pleuropulmonary blastoma. Eur J Pediatr Surg 18 (3): 192-4, 2008.
  47. Bouron-Dal Soglio D, Harvey I, Yazbeck S, et al.: An association of pleuropulmonary blastoma and cystic nephroma: possible genetic association. Pediatr Dev Pathol 9 (1): 61-4, 2006 Jan-Feb.
  48. Boman F, Hill DA, Williams GM, et al.: Familial association of pleuropulmonary blastoma with cystic nephroma and other renal tumors: a report from the International Pleuropulmonary Blastoma Registry. J Pediatr 149 (6): 850-854, 2006.
  49. Priest JR, Williams GM, Manera R, et al.: Ciliary body medulloepithelioma: four cases associated with pleuropulmonary blastoma--a report from the International Pleuropulmonary Blastoma Registry. Br J Ophthalmol 95 (7): 1001-5, 2011.
  50. Schultz KA, Pacheco MC, Yang J, et al.: Ovarian sex cord-stromal tumors, pleuropulmonary blastoma and DICER1 mutations: a report from the International Pleuropulmonary Blastoma Registry. Gynecol Oncol 122 (2): 246-50, 2011.
  51. Indolfi P, Casale F, Carli M, et al.: Pleuropulmonary blastoma: management and prognosis of 11 cases. Cancer 89 (6): 1396-401, 2000.
  52. Indolfi P, Bisogno G, Casale F, et al.: Prognostic factors in pleuro-pulmonary blastoma. Pediatr Blood Cancer 48 (3): 318-23, 2007.
  53. Priest JR, Andic D, Arbuckle S, et al.: Great vessel/cardiac extension and tumor embolism in pleuropulmonary blastoma: a report from the International Pleuropulmonary Blastoma Registry. Pediatr Blood Cancer 56 (4): 604-9, 2011.
  54. Schmaltz C, Sauter S, Opitz O, et al.: Pleuro-pulmonary blastoma: a case report and review of the literature. Med Pediatr Oncol 25 (6): 479-84, 1995.
  55. Ohta Y, Fujishima M, Hasegawa H, et al.: High therapeutic effectiveness of postoperative irinotecan chemotherapy in a typical case of radiographically and pathologically diagnosed pleuropulmonary blastoma. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 31 (5): 355-8, 2009.
  56. Venkatramani R, Malogolowkin MH, Wang L, et al.: Pleuropulmonary blastoma: a single-institution experience. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 34 (5): e182-5, 2012.
  57. de Castro CG Jr, de Almeida SG, Gregianin LJ, et al.: High-dose chemotherapy and autologous peripheral blood stem cell rescue in a patient with pleuropulmonary blastoma. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 25 (1): 78-81, 2003.
  58. Pleuropulmonary Blastoma Registry. St. Paul, Minn: Children's Hospitals and Clinics of St. Paul. Available online. Last accessed April 04, 2013.
  59. MacSweeney F, Papagiannopoulos K, Goldstraw P, et al.: An assessment of the expanded classification of congenital cystic adenomatoid malformations and their relationship to malignant transformation. Am J Surg Pathol 27 (8): 1139-46, 2003.
  60. Hill DA, Dehner LP: A cautionary note about congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation (CCAM) type 4. Am J Surg Pathol 28 (4): 554-5; author reply 555, 2004.
  61. Gangopadhyay AN, Mohanty PK, Gopal SC, et al.: Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus in an 8-year-old boy. J Pediatr Surg 32 (8): 1259-60, 1997.
  62. Issaivanan M, Redner A, Weinstein T, et al.: Esophageal carcinoma in children and adolescents. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 34 (1): 63-7, 2012.
  63. Verley JM, Hollmann KH: Thymoma. A comparative study of clinical stages, histologic features, and survival in 200 cases. Cancer 55 (5): 1074-86, 1985.
  64. Hsueh C, Kuo TT, Tsang NM, et al.: Thymic lymphoepitheliomalike carcinoma in children: clinicopathologic features and molecular analysis. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 28 (12): 785-90, 2006.
  65. Stachowicz-Stencel T, Bien E, Balcerska A, et al.: Thymic carcinoma in children: a report from the Polish Pediatric Rare Tumors Study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 54 (7): 916-20, 2010.
  66. Furman WL, Buckley PJ, Green AA, et al.: Thymoma and myasthenia gravis in a 4-year-old child. Case report and review of the literature. Cancer 56 (11): 2703-6, 1985.
  67. Yaris N, Nas Y, Cobanoglu U, et al.: Thymic carcinoma in children. Pediatr Blood Cancer 47 (2): 224-7, 2006.
  68. Yalçin B, Demir HA, Ciftçi AO, et al.: Thymomas in childhood: 11 cases from a single institution. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 34 (8): 601-5, 2012.
  69. Carretto E, Inserra A, Ferrari A, et al.: Epithelial thymic tumours in paediatric age: a report from the TREP project. Orphanet J Rare Dis 6: 28, 2011.
  70. Souadjian JV, Enriquez P, Silverstein MN, et al.: The spectrum of diseases associated with thymoma. Coincidence or syndrome? Arch Intern Med 134 (2): 374-9, 1974.
  71. Coulter D, Gold S: Thymoma in the offspring of a patient with Isaacs syndrome. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 29 (11): 797-8, 2007.
  72. Cowen D, Richaud P, Mornex F, et al.: Thymoma: results of a multicentric retrospective series of 149 non-metastatic irradiated patients and review of the literature. FNCLCC trialists. Fédération Nationale des Centres de Lutte Contre le Cancer. Radiother Oncol 34 (1): 9-16, 1995.
  73. Carlson RW, Dorfman RF, Sikic BI: Successful treatment of metastatic thymic carcinoma with cisplatin, vinblastine, bleomycin, and etoposide chemotherapy. Cancer 66 (10): 2092-4, 1990.
  74. Niehues T, Harms D, Jürgens H, et al.: Treatment of pediatric malignant thymoma: long-term remission in a 14-year-old boy with EBV-associated thymic carcinoma by aggressive, combined modality treatment. Med Pediatr Oncol 26 (6): 419-24, 1996.
  75. Casey EM, Kiel PJ, Loehrer PJ Sr: Clinical management of thymoma patients. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 22 (3): 457-73, 2008.
  76. Giaccone G, Ardizzoni A, Kirkpatrick A, et al.: Cisplatin and etoposide combination chemotherapy for locally advanced or metastatic thymoma. A phase II study of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Lung Cancer Cooperative Group. J Clin Oncol 14 (3): 814-20, 1996.
  77. Loehrer PJ Sr, Jiroutek M, Aisner S, et al.: Combined etoposide, ifosfamide, and cisplatin in the treatment of patients with advanced thymoma and thymic carcinoma: an intergroup trial. Cancer 91 (11): 2010-5, 2001.
  78. Ströbel P, Bargou R, Wolff A, et al.: Sunitinib in metastatic thymic carcinomas: laboratory findings and initial clinical experience. Br J Cancer 103 (2): 196-200, 2010.
  79. Wu KH, Mo XM, Liu YL: Clinical analysis and surgical results of cardiac myxoma in pediatric patients. J Surg Oncol 99 (1): 48-50, 2009.
  80. Burke A, Virmani R: Pediatric heart tumors. Cardiovasc Pathol 17 (4): 193-8, 2008 Jul-Aug.
  81. Becker AE: Primary heart tumors in the pediatric age group: a review of salient pathologic features relevant for clinicians. Pediatr Cardiol 21 (4): 317-23, 2000 Jul-Aug.
  82. Padalino MA, Vida VL, Boccuzzo G, et al.: Surgery for primary cardiac tumors in children: early and late results in a multicenter European Congenital Heart Surgeons Association study. Circulation 126 (1): 22-30, 2012.
  83. Isaacs H Jr: Fetal and neonatal cardiac tumors. Pediatr Cardiol 25 (3): 252-73, 2004 May-Jun.
  84. Elderkin RA, Radford DJ: Primary cardiac tumours in a paediatric population. J Paediatr Child Health 38 (2): 173-7, 2002.
  85. Uzun O, Wilson DG, Vujanic GM, et al.: Cardiac tumours in children. Orphanet J Rare Dis 2: 11, 2007.
  86. Bruce CJ: Cardiac tumours: diagnosis and management. Heart 97 (2): 151-60, 2011.
  87. Boikos SA, Stratakis CA: Carney complex: the first 20 years. Curr Opin Oncol 19 (1): 24-9, 2007.
  88. Carney JA, Young WF: Primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease and its associated conditions. Endocrinologist 2: 6-21, 1992.
  89. Stratakis CA, Kirschner LS, Carney JA: Clinical and molecular features of the Carney complex: diagnostic criteria and recommendations for patient evaluation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 86 (9): 4041-6, 2001.
  90. Boikos SA, Stratakis CA: Carney complex: pathology and molecular genetics. Neuroendocrinology 83 (3-4): 189-99, 2006.
  91. Kogon B, Shehata B, Katzenstein H, et al.: Primary congenital infantile fibrosarcoma of the heart: the first confirmed case. Ann Thorac Surg 91 (4): 1276-80, 2011.
  92. Tworetzky W, McElhinney DB, Margossian R, et al.: Association between cardiac tumors and tuberous sclerosis in the fetus and neonate. Am J Cardiol 92 (4): 487-9, 2003.
  93. Bader RS, Chitayat D, Kelly E, et al.: Fetal rhabdomyoma: prenatal diagnosis, clinical outcome, and incidence of associated tuberous sclerosis complex. J Pediatr 143 (5): 620-4, 2003.
  94. Beroukhim RS, Prakash A, Buechel ER, et al.: Characterization of cardiac tumors in children by cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging: a multicenter experience. J Am Coll Cardiol 58 (10): 1044-54, 2011.
  95. Michler RE, Goldstein DJ: Treatment of cardiac tumors by orthotopic cardiac transplantation. Semin Oncol 24 (5): 534-9, 1997.
  96. Stiller B, Hetzer R, Meyer R, et al.: Primary cardiac tumours: when is surgery necessary? Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 20 (5): 1002-6, 2001.
  97. Günther T, Schreiber C, Noebauer C, et al.: Treatment strategies for pediatric patients with primary cardiac and pericardial tumors: a 30-year review. Pediatr Cardiol 29 (6): 1071-6, 2008.
  98. Nagata S, Nakanishi R: Malignant pleural mesothelioma with cavity formation in a 16-year-old boy. Chest 127 (2): 655-7, 2005.
  99. Rosas-Salazar C, Gunawardena SW, Spahr JE: Malignant pleural mesothelioma in a child with ataxia-telangiectasia. Pediatr Pulmonol 48 (1): 94-7, 2013.
  100. Kelsey A: Mesothelioma in childhood. Pediatr Hematol Oncol 11 (5): 461-2, 1994 Sep-Oct.
  101. Moran CA, Albores-Saavedra J, Suster S: Primary peritoneal mesotheliomas in children: a clinicopathological and immunohistochemical study of eight cases. Histopathology 52 (7): 824-30, 2008.
  102. Cioffredi LA, Jänne PA, Jackman DM: Treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma in pediatric patients. Pediatr Blood Cancer 52 (1): 127-9, 2009.
  103. Hofmann J, Mintzer D, Warhol MJ: Malignant mesothelioma following radiation therapy. Am J Med 97 (4): 379-82, 1994.
  104. Pappo AS, Santana VM, Furman WL, et al.: Post-irradiation malignant mesothelioma. Cancer 79 (1): 192-3, 1997.
  105. Hyers TM, Ohar JM, Crim C: Clinical controversies in asbestos-induced lung diseases. Semin Diagn Pathol 9 (2): 97-101, 1992.
  106. Maziak DE, Gagliardi A, Haynes AE, et al.: Surgical management of malignant pleural mesothelioma: a systematic review and evidence summary. Lung Cancer 48 (2): 157-69, 2005.
  107. Milano E, Pourroy B, Rome A, et al.: Efficacy of a combination of pemetrexed and multiple redo-surgery in an 11-year-old girl with a recurrent multifocal abdominal mesothelioma. Anticancer Drugs 17 (10): 1231-4, 2006.
  108. Wall JE, Mandrell BN, Jenkins JJ 3rd, et al.: Effectiveness of paclitaxel in treating papillary serous carcinoma of the peritoneum in an adolescent. Am J Obstet Gynecol 172 (3): 1049-52, 1995.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
A common one in both men and women.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Do you know the symptoms?
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas