Chest Wall Tumors and Pectus Excavatum

Chest wall or sternal tumors are rare and can be either benign or cancerous. Our highly experienced physicians will work with you to determine a treatment plan that is based on a number of factors, including your overall health, stage of the cancer (if cancerous) and personal preferences. Our surgeons are leaders in performing procedures – minimally invasively when appropriate – for chest wall and sternum tumors.

Tests and diagnosis

  • Physical examination is when a physician will conduct a general physical exam to look for indications of disease.
  • Imaging tests: Physicians use a combination of X-ray, MRI, PET, and CT scans to view your entire chest in order to visualize tumors.
  • Fine needle biopsy is when a tiny needle is inserted into an area where a tumor is present. A small tissue sample is removed and then analyzed under a microscope to look for cellular changes.
  • Open biopsy is when a small incision is made to visualize and collect tissue sample from the tumor


  • Chest wall resection involves removing a portion of your chest wall or sternum where the tumor is located.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Our radiation oncologists use sophisticated technology to accurately locate tumors and then design treatment plans that precisely target specific doses of high-energy radiation toward cancer cells. This pinpoint accuracy ensures that tumors get the most potent dose of radiation while sparing your surrounding healthy tissue and organs.
  • Chemotherapy is the use of medicine to kill cancer. It can be given to patients intravenously through a vein in the arm or through an implanted venous catheter, such as mediport, or orally through a pill.
  • Immunotherapy is a form of biological therapy designed to stimulate a patient's own immune system to fight cancer. This can be done by engineering certain parts of a person's own immune system to drive the immune system to work harder or smarter to target and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy is sometimes used by itself, but it can also be used along with, or after, another type of treatment to boost its effects.
  • Targeted therapy uses drugs to block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth.
  • Adjuvant therapy is treatment given after surgery to reduce the chance of residual microscopic cancer cells remaining in your body. This may include chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
  • Neoadjuvant therapy is treatment given before surgery, including chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. This may reduce the amount of tumor remaining at the time of surgery, allowing for a more conservative operation.
  • Surgical correction of pectus excavatum: Pectus excavatum is a congenital abnormality of the sternum (breastbone) that results in a sunken chest wall deformity. Correction involves minimally invasive resection of excess cartilage, repositioning of ribs and implant of a bone graft.

Contact us

Undiagnosed or no referral

If you have not been formally diagnosed yet, call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 to see your primary care provider to explore all possible causes of your symptoms. All thoracic procedures require a referral from a provider before scheduling.

Scheduling a procedure

If you have a referral for a thoracic procedure, contact the team at the facility where you want to have the procedure completed:

Allegheny General Hospital
320 East North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(412) 359-6137

Forbes Hospital
2570 Haymaker Road
Monroeville, PA 15146

(412) 858-7088

Jefferson Hospital
565 Coal Valley Road
Jefferson Hills, PA 15025

(412) 469-7900

Saint Vincent Hospital
232 West 25th Street
Erie, PA 16544

(814) 453-7767