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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
- Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
- What Is Thymus Cancer? (American Cancer Society)
Diagnosis and Tests
- Can Thymus Cancer Be Found Early? (American Cancer Society)
- Stages of Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
Prevention and Risk Factors
- What Are the Risk Factors for Thymus Cancer? (American Cancer Society)
Treatments and Therapies
- Treatment Option Overview (Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma) (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Myasthenia Gravis (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
Statistics and Research
- Key Statistics about Thymus Cancers (American Cancer Society)
- Survival Rates for Thymus Cancer (American Cancer Society)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Thymus Neoplasms (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Safety of COVID-19 vaccine in patients with myasthenia gravis: a self-controlled...
- Article: Cine MR feature tracking analysis for diagnosing thymic epithelial tumors: a...
- Article: Immunotherapy of thymic epithelial tumors: molecular understandings and clinical perspectives.
- Thymus Cancer -- see more articles
- Dictionary of Cancer Terms (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Endocrine System (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Thymus Gland Anatomy (National Cancer Institute)
Find an Expert
- American Cancer Society
- Find a Cancer Doctor (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
- National Cancer Institute Also in Spanish
- NCI Designated Cancer Centers (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Organizations that Offer Cancer Support Services (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Childhood Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma Treatment (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Chest radiation - discharge (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish