- Cancer 101 Pictures Slideshow
- Breast Cancer Slideshow
- Skin Cancer Slideshow
- Patient Comments: Thymoma - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Thymoma - Diagnosis
- Patient Comments: Thymoma - Treatment
- Find a local Doctor in your town
- Thymoma facts
- What is thymoma?
- What causes thymoma, and what are risk factors for thymoma?
- What are signs and symptoms of thymoma?
- What other types of medical conditions are associated with thymoma?
- What types of specialists treat thymomas?
- How do health care professionals diagnose a thymoma?
- What are the stages of thymoma?
- What are types of treatment options for thymoma?
- What is the prognosis for thymoma?
- Is it possible to prevent a thymoma?
What other types of medical conditions are associated with thymoma?
A number of health conditions have been associated with thymoma. Medical conditions that are associated with cancers are known as paraneoplastic syndromes, and up to 50%-60% of patients with thymoma will have one of these related health conditions. The most commonly associated condition with thymoma is myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease of the nerve-muscle junction that can manifest as weakness, fatigue, double vision, ptosis (drooping eyelids), and problems with swallowing.
Other associated conditions include other autoimmune diseases including pure red cell aplasia (underproduction of red blood cells in the bone marrow).
What types of specialists treat thymomas?
Surgeons, including thoracic (chest) surgeons and surgical oncologists, typically treat thymoma. If other treatments are indicated for an aggressive thymoma or thymic carcinoma, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists may be involved in the treatment team.
How do health care professionals diagnose a thymoma?
If a thymoma is not causing symptoms, it is sometimes identified incidentally, meaning it is found on an imaging test of the chest (for example, X-ray, computerized tomography or CT scan) that is performed for another reason. If symptoms are present, chest X-rays or other imaging studies, such as CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or the combination of PET and CT scans, are typically carried out to identify the source of the symptoms.
While a mass in the anterior mediastinum can be seen on imaging studies, the definitive diagnosis can only be established when the mass is either removed surgically and examined by a pathologist or when a biopsy (surgical removal of a small portion of tissue for diagnostic purposes) is taken. Microscopic examination of the tumor tissue is necessary to confirm the diagnosis of thymoma or thymic carcinoma. The appearance of the tissue itself under the microscope is classified as type A, B, or C based on its characteristics. Type C thymoma is thymic carcinoma and is quite rare.