Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma: The Basics

Autor: OncoLink Team
Última Vez Revisión: 11 de octubre de 2018

The thymus is a gland that lies under the breastbone. It is part of your immune system and makes T lymphocytes which fight infection. Thymoma is a slow-growing tumor that does not spread. Thymic carcinoma is more aggressive and does spread. 

Cancer that has spread from the thymus to some other part of the body is called metastatic cancer.

Risks

The risk factors for cancer of the thymus are not known but some people with thymoma may have other autoimmune diseases like myasthenia gravis. 

Screening

Currently there are no screening tests for thymus cancer. 

Signs of Thymus Cancer

Signs of thymus cancer are: 

  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarseness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Trouble swallowing

Thymus cancer can cause autoimmune issues such as myasthenia gravis, red cell aplasia and hypogammaglobulinemia. 

Diagnosis 

This type of cancer is most often diagnosed with an x-ray or imaging test of the chest. If it has spread to other parts of the chest, those areas may be biopsied. 

Staging Thymus Cancer

Cancer of the thymus is staged using the Masaoka staging system. It takes into account the extent of the disease, if it has spread to nearby tissues and the type of cell making up the cancer. The stages range from I-IV. 

Treatment

Often, these treatments are used:

  • Surgery: removal of part or all of the thymus gland. 
  • Radiation Therapy: the use of high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: the use of medications to kill cancer cells. 

This article is an introduction to cancer of the thymus. You can learn more about thymus cancer diagnosis and treatment by using the links below.

All About Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma

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