General information

Malignant tumors of the chest cavity include first of all bronchial carcinoma (lung cancer), pleural mesothelioma, malignant tumors of the mediastinum (for example, thymic carcinoma, mediastinal germ cell tumors, lymphoma, thymoma, soft tissue tumors, etc.) and lung metastases of cancers with primary manifestation outside the chest (for example, breast cancer, colon cancer, testicular cancer, soft tissue sarcoma).

By far the most common is bronchial carcinoma. Bronchial carcinoma, with an estimated 48,000 new cases diagnosed every year in Germany, is the fourth most common cause of death and the most common cause of death from cancer.

In accordance with pathological tissue diagnostics, differentiation is made between small cell and non-small cell bronchial carcinoma. Within the non-small cell bronchial carcinomas, differentiation is made between squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma and large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma.

In addition, molecular diversification is gaining importance (for example, EGF-receptor mutations; EML4-ALK translocation; and–in a study context–mutations of K-RAS, DDR2, B-RAF; and ROS-1 translocation).

There are no distinctively characteristic (pathognomonic) symptoms of bronchial carcinoma. Besides a dry cough, breathlessness and the coughing up of bloody phlegm, chest pain symptoms may be indicative; furthermore, metastases can cause the following symptoms: impairment of brain function or headaches (brain metastasis), fatigue or tiredness (metastasis in the liver or in other organs), bone pain (bone metastasis).