Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Superior Vena Cava Syndrome Treatment

The treatment for superior vena cava syndrome depends on the underlying cause. The most common cause of superior vena cava syndrome is a tumor in the right chest or lung. Superior vena cava syndrome may also be caused by a blood clot that obstructs the flow of blood through the vein. Treatment for blood clots may include thrombolytic therapy or anticoagulant medications.

Treatment for chest tumors may include radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses medications that either kill cancer cells directly, or interfere with their metabolism. Radiation therapy uses x-rays to directly kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy delivers a focused beam of radiation to the cancer so that any damage to surrounding tissue is minimized.

Treatment for chest tumors may include:

  • Radiation therapy for tumors:
    • Radiation kills the cancer cells, reducing the size of the tumor and relieving the pressure against the superior vena cava.
  • Chemotherapy for tumors:
    • Medications kill cancer cells, reducing the size of the tumor and relieving the pressure against the superior vena cava
  • Surgery:
    • Placement of a stent in the superior vena cava, in order to prop open the vessel so that blood may flow.

Treatment for blood clots may include:

Superior Vena Cava Syndrome Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat superior vena cava syndrome:

Continue to Superior Vena Cava Syndrome Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 13, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Superior Vena Cava Syndrome References
  1. Lequaglie C, Conti B, Brega-Massone PP, Giudice G. The difficult approach to neoplastic superior vena cava syndrome: surgical option. J Cardiovasc Surg (Torino). 2003 Oct;44(5):667-71. [14735057]
  2. Nunnelee JD. Superior vena cava syndrome. J Vasc Nurs. 2007 Mar;25(1):2-5; quiz 6. [17324762]
  3. Urruticoechea A, Mesia R, Dominguez J, Falo C, Escalante E, Montes A, Sancho C, Cardenal F, Majem M, Germa JR. Treatment of malignant superior vena cava syndrome by endovascular stent insertion. Experience on 52 patients with lung cancer. Lung Cancer. 2004 Feb;43(2):209-14. [14739042]
  4. Wudel LJ Jr, Nesbitt JC. Superior vena cava syndrome. Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2001 Feb;2(1):77-91. [12057143]
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