Whether you are fighting cancer or managing a blood disorder, the hematologists and oncologists at Main Line Health offer the comprehensive care you need.
What is thymus cancer?
Cancer of the thymus or thymic cancer is an extremely rare form of cancer that starts in the cells of the thymus, a gland that sits behind your breastbone and just above the heart. Its purpose is to produce white blood cells, or T cells, before you're born and during childhood to help fight off infection. There are two main types of thymus cancer, again both very rare: thymoma and thymic carcinoma. With thymoma, the cancer cells look similar to regular cells. This type of cancer is often associated with other diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. With thymic carcinoma, however, the cells multiply quickly and do not look like normal cells at all.
Symptoms of thymus cancer
- A persistent cough
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
Because a tumor in the thymus is close to the vena cava (large blood vessel that runs from head to heart) you may also experience swelling of the face, neck or veins, or have headaches or dizziness.
There is not much known about the cause of thymus cancer or why some people develop it and others do not.
If you have symptoms that are concerning you, be sure to see a doctor. Your doctor will review your health history and symptoms, and may recommend certain tests, such as CT scan, MRI, PET scan, blood tests and biopsy.
If you are diagnosed with thymic cancer, your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you and help you decide the best approach for you. Treatment for thymic cancer often includes a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
From diagnosis and throughout treatment, Main Line Health cancer specialists (oncologists) provide compassionate care for you and your loved ones through all stages of cancer treatment.
Main Line Health experts use the latest technology to diagnose and treat all types of conditions affecting the chest, lungs and esophagus.
When hormones are out of balance, you can experience a wide range of problems. Main Line Health endocrinologists can help assess your needs and provide care for any endocrinology and metabolism conditions.