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The thymus is a small organ in your upper chest, under your breastbone. Before birth and during childhood, the thymus helps the body make a type of white blood cell. These cells help protect you from infections.
Cancer of the thymus is rare. You are more likely to get it if you have other diseases such as myasthenia gravis, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes there are no symptoms. Other times, thymus cancer can cause
- A cough that doesn't go away
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
Doctors use a physical exam, imaging tests, and a biopsy to diagnose thymus cancer. The most common treatment is surgery to remove the tumor. Other options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.
NIH: National Cancer Institute
- General Information about Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma (National Cancer Institute) Available in Spanish
- What Is Thymus Cancer? (American Cancer Society)
Prevention and Risk Factors
- What Are the Risk Factors for Thymus Cancer? (American Cancer Society)
Treatments and Therapies
- Thymectomy: Common Questions Patients Ask about Thymectomies (Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America) - PDF
- Treatment Option Overview (Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma) (National Cancer Institute) Available in Spanish
- Treatment Options for Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma (National Cancer Institute) Available in Spanish
- Myasthenia Gravis (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Available in Spanish
- What Should You Ask Your Doctor about Thymus Cancer? (American Cancer Society)
- Thymoma (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
Statistics and Research
- What Are the Key Statistics about Thymus Cancers? (American Cancer Society)
- What's New in Research and Treatment for Thymus Cancer? (American Cancer Society)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Thymus Neoplasms (National Institutes of Health)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: CASE RECORDS of the MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL. Case 31-2015. A...
- Article: Diagnostic Yield of CT-Guided Percutaneous Transthoracic Needle Biopsy for Diagnosis...
- Article: Thymoma-Associated Graft-Versus-Host-Like Disease With Skin Manifestations Improved by Complete Resection...
- Thymus Cancer -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- American Cancer Society
- Find a Cancer Doctor (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
- National Cancer Institute Available in Spanish
- NCI Designated Cancer Centers (National Cancer Institute) Available in Spanish
- Organizations That Offer Support Services (National Cancer Institute) Available in Spanish
- Chest radiation - discharge Available in Spanish
- What to Know about External Beam Radiation Therapy (National Cancer Institute) - PDF Available in Spanish