Thymoma and thymic carcinoma

What are thymoma and thymic carcinoma?
Thymoma and thymic carcinoma are two types of tumors that affect the thymus, a small gland in the upper chest that produces white blood cells called lymphocytes, which fight infection. The thymus is part of the lymph system.

What causes thymoma or thymic carcinoma?
Although the exact cause of cancer of the thymus is not known, people with autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis have a higher risk of developing thymoma or thymic carcinoma. However, having an autoimmune disease does not mean that you will definitely get cancer of the thymus.

What are the symptoms of thymoma or thymic carcinoma?
The disease does not usually cause many symptoms, and can be found during a routine medical check-up. Symptoms can include:
• Chest pain
• Trouble breathing
• Cough that does not go away
• Ptosis (a drooping of the upper eyelid)

How is thymoma or thymic carcinoma diagnosed?
At KHCC, physicians use a wide variety of diagnostic procedures and techniques to accurately diagnose cancer of the thymus, including:
• Chest x-rays to determine the location and size of the tumor
• CT/PET scans to identify any abnormal functioning of organs or tissues
• Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) to get images of the lungs and the surrounding areas to see if there are any tumors. The EBUS technique can also be used to obtain a biopsy of the lung tissue
• Pulmonary function tests (PFT) to monitor your breathing and evaluate how well your lungs are functioning
• Biopsy to remove a tissue sample of the tumor for further examination under a microscope
• MRI scan
• CAT scan

How is thymoma or thymic carcinoma treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on the stage of the disease.

Early stage cancer of the thymus is usually treated through surgery and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy may be used in treatment as well, but this usually depends on the stage of the cancer.

At KHCC, thymus cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating cancer of the thymus and other chest cancers.

Supportive Care
The lung cancer multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that thymus cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: