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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Questionable Mass
December 2001

Q. I have what appears to be a mass in my chest, right at my sternum. It is about the size of a half golf ball on the outside and feels like a bowling ball in my chest. I went to my HMO and they said it was swollen and tender from too much rubbing. I am also spitting up blood in the morning, and the HMO said I must have bit my tongue. I looked up my symptoms on the web and came across a term called "mediastinal mass". It describes all my symptoms: difficult breathing, swallowing, chest pain and tightness. I have lost 30 lbs in 3 months. Can you offer any insight into this condition?

A. You should seek further medical attention right away. The evaluation of the mass might include an x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan, or biopsy. The symptoms of spitting blood, chest pain, difficult breathing, and weight loss are all abnormal, potentially serious, and require evaluation. A doctor of internal medicine or your family doctor should see you immediately!

http://radiology.bidmc.harvard.edu/kinds_of_exams/mri/mr.html

http://www.heartcenteronline.com/myheartdr/common/articles.cfm?ARTID=204

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