Thymoma

An experienced team for a rare cancer.

Thymoma is an incredibly rare cancer. It accounts for less than 1 percent of all cancer diagnoses. Thymoma affects the thymus, a small organ under the breastbone that plays a role in the immune system. The thymus produces T-lymphocytes, which help the body fight bacteria and viruses. It’s most active in childhood and adolescence and shrinks in adulthood.

Because it’s so rare, not every health organization has experience caring for thymoma patients. Our thoracic cancer care team is one of the few across the country to perform minimally invasive robot-assisted thymectomies.

We also offer a Survivorship Workshop Series to provide support and education from the moment of diagnosis onward.

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If you were diagnosed with thymoma we may have a clinical trial for you.

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Am I at risk for thymoma?

Doctors often discover thymoma after diagnosing certain autoimmune disorders, including:

  • Myasthenia gravis: Autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Red-cell aplasia: Type of anemia characterized by the decline of red blood cells
  • Hypogammaglobulinemia: Immune disorder caused by a lack of B-lymphocytes and antibodies in the blood.

What are the symptoms for thymoma?

Many people with thymoma do not show any symptoms. If they do, symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Increased body or facial hair
  • Persistent cough
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain

What are my treatment options for thymoma?

Thymectomy, surgery to remove the thymus gland, is the first line of treatment for thymoma. We use advanced, minimally invasive robot-assisted procedures to remove small tumors. But we may need to perform open surgery for large, more complex tumors.

In cases that surgery is not an option, we use radiation therapy, sometimes in combination with chemotherapy. We also may use radiation to relieve symptoms, especially when the tumor has spread.

We often participate in clinical trials to test new thymoma treatments. Talk with your doctor about whether taking part in a trial may be right for you.

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