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Mediastinoscopy is a surgical procedure offered at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, the state's only comprehensive cancer center, that's used to detect or "stage" lung cancer (determine the extent of the disease).
In the mediastinoscopy procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision below the neck and inserts a scope (a narrow, hollow tube with an attached light) through it to reach the area behind the breastbone that lies between the lungs (mediastinum).
The surgeon can then insert tools through the scope to collect lymph node tissue for testing purposes, which will help to precisely define the stage or extent of the cancer. This information will guide the physicians in determining what treatment is needed.