Thymoma (patient information)

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Thymoma (patient information)
ICD-10 C37.9, D60
ICD-9 164.0, 212.6
ICD-O: 8580
DiseasesDB 13067
MeSH D013945



What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?


When to seek urgent medical care?

Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Thymoma?


What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

Thymoma On the Web

Ongoing Trials at Clinical

Images of Thymoma

Videos on Thymoma

FDA on Thymoma

CDC on Thymoma

Thymoma in the news

Blogs on Thymoma

Directions to Hospitals Treating Thymoma

Risk calculators and risk factors for Thymoma

For the WikiDoc page for this topic, click here.

Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor-In-Chief: Jinhui Wu, M.D.


  • The thymus lies in the upper chest under the breastbone and it is part of the lymph system.
  • There are different types of tumors of the thymus: thymoma and thymic carcinomas. Thymoma usually is benign, and frequently encapsulated.
  • Thymoma does not have any early symptoms. With the development of the tumor, frequent symptoms include trouble breathing, cough or chest pain, etc.
  • Treatments include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

What are the symptoms of Thymoma?

Early thymoma does not have any symptoms. As the tumor grows larger, people may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

Other health problems may also cause these symptoms. Only a doctor can tell for sure. A person with any of these symptoms should tell the doctor so that the problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Who is at highest risk?

Not much is known about why thymoma develop in some people but not in others.


In order to diagnose thymoma, your doctor may suggest the following tests:

  • Chest x-ray: An x-ray test is a basic test for thymoma. It may go through the chest and make a picture of areas inside the body.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan and biopsy: CT scans are often used to diagnose thymoma. It can confirm the location of the tumor and show the organs in the mediastinum, as well as lymph nodes. These are helpful for determining whether surgery is a good treatment option. CT scans can also be used to guide biopsy and a biopsy sample is usually removed and looked at under a microscope.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI uses magnetic fields but it is a different type of image than what is produced by computed tomography (CT) and produces detailed images of the body. Like computed tomography (CT), a contrast agent may be injected into a patient’s vein to create a better picture.

When to seek urgent medical care?

Call your health care provider if symptoms of thymoma develop. If you experience either of the following symptoms, seeking urgent medical care as soon as possible:

Treatment options

Patients with thymoma have many treatment options. The selection depends on the stage of the tumor. The options are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone treatment, or a combination of these methods.

  • Before treatment starts, ask your health care team about possible side effects and how treatment may change your normal activities. Because cancer treatments often damage healthy cells and tissues, side effects are common. Side effect may not be the same for each person, and they may change from one treatment session to the next.
  • Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for thymoma. After surgery, other types of treatment can be done in order to increase the chances of a cure.
  • Radiation therapy: This therapy does not usually work well for kidney cancer. In some cases, hormone treatments may reduce the growth of the tumor.
  • Chemotherapy: The treatment is to use drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.

Diseases with similar symptoms

Where to find medical care for thymoma?

Directions to Hospitals Treating thymoma

Prevention of Thymoma

For the causes of thymoma are not clear, it is not yet possible to know how to prevent them.

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

The prognosis of thymoma depends on the following:

  • The location of the tumor
  • The stage of the tumor
  • Whether the tumor can be removed completely by surgery
  • The patient's general health
  • Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred