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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) Also 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
- Treatment Options for Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Thymus Neoplasms (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Immunotherapy vs platinum for advanced or metastatic thymic carcinoma: A protocol...
- Article: Extracellular volume fraction measurement correlates with lymphocyte abundance in thymic epithelial...
- Article: Interleukin-8 as a candidate for thymoma identification and recurrence surveillance.
- Thymus Cancer -- see more articles