Like any other part of the body, the walls of the chest cavity are susceptible to tumors. A tumor is any type of abnormal growth of cells, whether malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Chest wall tumors can interfere with pulmonary function.
Cancerous tumors are uncommon. Chest wall tumors, whether malignant (cancerous) or benign (non cancerous), are classified as primary or secondary (metastatic). The most common benign tumors are osteochondromas and chrondromas. The most common malignant chest wall tumors are sarcomas.
Primary tumors originate in the bone or muscle of the chest wall. Less than half of malignant chest wall tumors are primary. Secondary tumors originate elsewhere in the body and spread (metastasize) to the chest wall. Almost all secondary tumors are malignant. Most chest wall tumors found in children are primary, while most found in adults are secondary. All of these tumors tend to be a lump on the chest wall surface or a growth that invades the bone or muscle.