Prognosis and survival for thymus cancer
If you have thymus cancer, you may have questions about your prognosis. A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect someone and how it will respond to treatment. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, the type and stage and other features of the cancer, the treatments chosen and the response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.
A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person (such as their general health) that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together. They both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.
The following are prognostic and predictive factors for thymus cancer.
Find out more about stages of thymus cancer.
Most thymus cancers are divided into groups using the World Health Organization (WHO) classification system. Type A, type AB and type B1 thymomas usually have a very good prognosis because the tumour cells look like normal thymus cells. Type B2 and type B3 thymomas have a less favourable prognosis because they are made up of abnormal thymus cells.
Thymic carcinomas (also called type C) usually have a poor prognosis because they tend to be aggressive tumours that grow quickly and usually have spread to other parts of the body when they are diagnosed. The cancer cells look very different from normal epithelial cells of the thymus.
Find out more about the classification of thymoma and thymic carcinoma.
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Surgery is usually used to treat thymus cancer. Thymus cancer that is completely removed by surgery has a much more favourable prognosis than thymus cancer that is not completely removed or if surgery can’t be done.
Expert review and references
Brierley JD, Gospodarowicz MK, Wittekind C (eds.). TNM Classification of Malignant Tumours. 8th ed. Wiley Blackwell; 2017.
National Cancer Institute. Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma Treatment (PDQ®) Patient Version. 2016: https://www.cancer.gov/types/thymoma/patient/thymoma-treatment-pdq.
National Cancer Institute. Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. 2015: https://www.cancer.gov/types/thymoma/hp/thymoma-treatment-pdq.