Thymus cancer

What is thymus cancer?

Thymus cancer starts in the cells of the thymus. Learn about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and risks in our guide to thymus cancer.

Risk factors for thymus cancer

A risk factor is something (such as a behaviour, substance or condition) that increases the risk of developing cancer. Most cancers are the result of many risk factors, but there are no known risk factors for thymus cancer. There are some possible risk factors.

Symptoms of thymus cancer

A sign is something that can be observed and recognized by a doctor or healthcare professional (for example, a rash). A symptom is something that only the person experiencing it can feel and know (for example, pain or tiredness). The signs and symptoms of thymoma or thymic carcinoma can also be caused by other health conditions.

Diagnosis of thymus cancer

Diagnosis is the process of finding the cause of a health problem. Diagnosing thymus cancer may begin with a visit to your family doctor. Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms you have and may do a physical exam. But most often thymus cancer is found by chance when you have tests for other reasons.

Stages of thymus cancer

Staging is a way of describing or classifying a cancer based on the extent of cancer in the body. Two staging systems are used to classify thymoma and thymic carcinoma – the modified Masaoka system and the TNM system.

If thymus cancer spreads

Cancer cells have the potential to spread from tumours in the thymus to other parts of the body where they can grow into new tumours. This process is called metastasis. The tumours are also called metastasis (singular) or metastases (plural). Metastases are also called secondary tumours.

Prognosis and survival for thymus cancer

If you have thymoma or thymic carcinoma, you may have questions about prognosis and survival. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, type of cancer, stage, characteristics of the cancer, treatments chosen and response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

Treatments for thymus cancer

Treatment for thymoma and thymic carcinoma is given by cancer specialists (oncologists). Some specialize in surgery, some in radiation therapy and others in chemotherapy (drugs). These doctors work with the person with cancer to decide on a treatment plan.

Supportive care for thymus cancer

Supportive care helps people meet the physical, practical, emotional and spiritual challenges of thymoma or thymic carcinoma. It is an important part of cancer care. There are many programs and services available to help meet the needs and improve the quality of life of people living with cancer and their loved ones, especially after treatment has ended.

Research in thymus cancer

Learn what’s new in thymus cancer research, including research in surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and targeted therapy.

Thymus gland cancer statistics

Thymus cancer is included in the statistics for other endocrine cancers. Learn about Canadian statistics for endocrine cancers.