Solitary fibrous tumors, also known as fibrous tumor of the pleura, are rare growths of soft tissue cells that can form almost anywhere in the body. They most often occur in the lining around the outside of the lungs (pleural solitary fibrous tumors).

The majority of solitary fibrous tumors are noncancerous (benign), though in rare cases (about 20%), they can be cancerous (malignant). They can be found in the head and neck, breast, kidney, prostate, spinal cord and other areas of the body.

Solitary fibrous tumors tend to develop slowly and may not cause signs and symptoms until they become enlarged in size. They usually affect older adults around the ages of 50, though occasionally, they can occur in children and adolescents.

Treatment options for solitary fibrous tumors typically involve surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. It is important for a solitary fibrous tumor to be treated and completely removed in order to avoid and prevent any chances of recurrence.



Signs and symptoms of solitary fibrous tumors may include:

  • Slow growth of the tumor
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels)
  • Chest pain
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath



The exact cause of solitary fibrous tumors remains unknown. Some solitary fibrous tumors are associated with the paraneoplastic Doege–Potter syndrome, which is caused by tumor production of IGF-2.

Risk factors

One factor in particular that can increase the risk of developing solitary fibrous tumors is having had previous radiation therapy for cancer treatment.


Possible complications that can arise from solitary fibrous tumors include the following:

  • Incomplete tumor excision
  • Recurrence of the tumor
  • Ptosis (drooping of the upper or lower eyelid)
  • Retrobulbar hemorrhage (vision threatening complication)
  • Decreased vision or diplopia (double vision)
  • Malignant degeneration



The main goal for solitary fibrous tumors is to completely remove the tumor itself and prevent reoccurrence. Treatment options for solitary fibrous tumors may include:

  • Surgery: A surgical procedure that involve the removal of the tumor and a small amount of healthy tissue that surrounds it. The possibility of having surgery depends on where the tumor has occurred and is currently located.
  • Radiation therapy:  A type of therapy that uses high powered energy beams (X-rays) to shrink the tumor so that it is more likely to be removed completely during surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: A type of therapy that uses anti-cancerous drugs to destroy cancer cells and reduce the risk of the tumor spreading to other areas of the body.