A major vein in a person’s body is the superior vena cava. Blood passes from the head, neck, upper chest and arms to the heart through this vein. If a person’s superior vena cava is partially blocked or compressed, superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) occurs. The main cause of SVCS is normally cancer. You should not neglect SVCS and consult a specialist for treatment. An important part of cancer care is the necessary treatment to relieve symptoms and side effects.


The people who have lung cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma or cancers that spread to the chest, normally suffer from SVCS. In a number of ways, cancer can cause SVCS. Some of them are:

  • The superior vena cava may get pressure from a tumour in the chest.

  • There may be a blockage in the superior vena cava due to the growth of a tumour in the vein.

  • There may be the spreading of cancer to the lymph nodes surrounding the superior vena cava. The lymph nodes can press on or block the vein as they become enlarged.

  • A blood clot may develop in the vein due to cancer. A pacemaker wire or an intravenous catheter can also cause a blood clot.


The symptoms of SVCS usually develop slowly. This condition is an emergency and causes serious breathing problems. The majority of people with SVCS respond well to treatment, although SVCS and its symptoms are serious. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned here, immediately consult a cancer specialist in Kolkata. Some symptoms of SVCS are:

  • Coughing
  • There is swelling of the face, neck, upper body and arms
  • Trouble in breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble in swallowing
  • Hoarseness in the voice
  • There is swelling of the veins in the chest and neck
  • Blood coming out from the chest and neck while coughing
  • Skin getting bluish due to lack of oxygen
  • Paralysis in the vocal cord
  • Fluid buildup in the arms
  • Horner’s syndrome


The doctor can diagnose SVCS by the following tests:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Venography
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Chest x-ray
  • Ultrasound


There may be no need for immediate treatment for people with SVCS in some cases. The symptoms may be mild and the trachea may not be blocked in such cases. An oncologist in Kolkata manages SVCS by using chemotherapy or radiation therapy to treat cancer causing this condition. Keeping their head in an elevated position and using supplemental oxygen help in a lot of improvement in the condition of many people with SVCS. Some doctors use steroids to reduce swelling. If there is appropriate treatment, there can be positive results as most cases of SVCS are caused due to cancer.