Supportive care for thymus cancer

Supportive care helps people meet the physical, practical, emotional and spiritual challenges of thymus cancer. 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.

Recovering from thymus cancer and adjusting to life after treatment is different for each person, depending on the stage of the cancer, the type of treatment and many other factors. The end of cancer treatment may bring mixed emotions. Even though treatment has ended, there may be other issues to deal with, such as coping with long-term side effects. A person who has been treated for thymus cancer may have the following concerns.

Worrying that the cancer will come back

Thymomas can come back (recur) up to 20 years after treatment. This is why lifetime follow-up is recommended for people treated for thymoma.

It can be very stressful living for such a long time with the possibility of the cancer coming back, and going for regular doctor’s appointments may make it harder. It may be a constant reminder. But regular follow-up with your doctor and other members of the healthcare team increases the chance that the cancer will be found earlier, when it is easier to treat.

You can use these visits to discuss your concerns and ask questions. Report any signs and symptoms that may suggest the cancer has returned as soon as possible. Find out more about the symptoms of thymus cancer.

You may want to talk to a counsellor or a close friend if fear of the cancer coming back is stopping you from moving forward. You can also join a cancer survivor support group or online community. Talking with others who have the same fears may be helpful. Look for ways to help you cope, manage stress and improve your health. You might try some or all of the following:

  • meditation
  • prayer (some may find comfort in spiritual beliefs)
  • imagery and relaxation
  • being physically active
  • eating a healthy diet

Find out more about worrying that the cancer will come back.

Second cancers

People who have been diagnosed with thymoma are at a greater risk of developing a second cancer. This risk seems to be the same if you are treated with a thymectomy or radiation therapy to the chest or have a history of myasthenia gravis.

The second cancers that can develop after thymoma are:

  • non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • soft tissue sarcoma

Studies have suggested that people who have thymoma may have a higher risk for other types of cancer, but there is not enough evidence to definitely link them to thymoma.

Questions to ask about supportive care

To make decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about supportive care.

Expert review and references