Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma

Thymoma and thymic carcinoma are cancers of the thymus, a small organ that lies in the upper chest under the breastbone and is part of the lymph system. The thymus makes white blood cells called lymphocytes, which protect the body against infections.

There are different types of tumors of the thymus. Thymomas and thymic carcinomas are rare tumors of the cells that are on the outside surface of the thymus. The tumor cells in a thymoma look similar to the normal cells of the thymus, grow slowly, and rarely spread beyond the thymus. On the other hand, the tumor cells in a thymic carcinoma look very different from the normal cells of the thymus, grow more quickly, and have usually spread to other parts of the body when the cancer is found.

Thymoma is linked with myasthenia gravis and other autoimmune diseases. Invasive thymomas and thymic carcinomas are relatively rare tumors, which together represent about 0.2 percent to 1.5 percent of all malignancies in the United States.

Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma Treatment (PDQ®)

Source: National Cancer Institute