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    Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information About Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma Treatment


    Thymoma has been associated with an increased risk for second malignancies. In a review of the SEER database of thymoma cases in the United States between 1973 and 1998, 849 cases were identified (overall incidence 0.15 per 100,000 person-years).[3] In this study, there was an excess risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and soft tissue sarcomas.

    Risk of second malignancy appears to be unrelated to any of the following:[3,27,28]

    Standard primary treatment for patients with these types of tumors is surgical resection with en bloc resection for invasive tumors, if possible.[5,7,8,29] Depending on tumor stage, there are multimodality treatment options, which include the use of radiation therapy and chemotherapy with or without surgery.[7,30]

    Thymic carcinomas have a greater propensity to capsular invasion and metastases than thymomas. Patients more often present with advanced disease, with a 5-year survival of 30% to 50%.[31] Owing to the paucity of cases, optimal management of thymic carcinoma has yet to be defined. As with thymoma, primary treatment is surgical resection; however, multimodality treatment with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are often used because of the more advanced stage and greater risk of relapse.


    Because of the increased risk for second malignancies and the fact that thymoma can recur after a long interval, it has been recommended that surveillance should be lifelong.[27] The measurement of interferon-alpha and interleukin-2 antibodies is helpful to identify patients with a thymoma recurrence.[32]

    Related Summary

    Another PDQ summary containing information related to thymoma includes the following:

    • Unusual Cancers of Childhood (thymoma in children).


    1. Rosai J: Histological Typing of Tumours of the Thymus. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag, 2nd ed., 1999.
    2. Fornasiero A, Daniele O, Ghiotto C, et al.: Chemotherapy of invasive thymoma. J Clin Oncol 8 (8): 1419-23, 1990.
    3. Engels EA, Pfeiffer RM: Malignant thymoma in the United States: demographic patterns in incidence and associations with subsequent malignancies. Int J Cancer 105 (4): 546-51, 2003.
    4. Greene MA, Malias MA: Aggressive multimodality treatment of invasive thymic carcinoma. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 125 (2): 434-6, 2003.
    5. Ogawa K, Toita T, Uno T, et al.: Treatment and prognosis of thymic carcinoma: a retrospective analysis of 40 cases. Cancer 94 (12): 3115-9, 2002.
    6. Blumberg D, Burt ME, Bains MS, et al.: Thymic carcinoma: current staging does not predict prognosis. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 115 (2): 303-8; discussion 308-9, 1998.
    7. Schmidt-Wolf IG, Rockstroh JK, Schüller H, et al.: Malignant thymoma: current status of classification and multimodality treatment. Ann Hematol 82 (2): 69-76, 2003.
    8. Cameron RB, Loehrer PJ, Thomas CR Jr: Neoplasms of the mediastinum. In: DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA: Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011, pp 871-81.
    9. Detterbeck FC, Parsons AM: Thymic tumors. Ann Thorac Surg 77 (5): 1860-9, 2004.
    10. Okumura M, Ohta M, Tateyama H, et al.: The World Health Organization histologic classification system reflects the oncologic behavior of thymoma: a clinical study of 273 patients. Cancer 94 (3): 624-32, 2002.
    11. Strollo DC, Rosado-de-Christenson ML: Tumors of the thymus. J Thorac Imaging 14 (3): 152-71, 1999.
    12. Hoffacker V, Schultz A, Tiesinga JJ, et al.: Thymomas alter the T-cell subset composition in the blood: a potential mechanism for thymoma-associated autoimmune disease. Blood 96 (12): 3872-9, 2000.
    13. Buckley C, Douek D, Newsom-Davis J, et al.: Mature, long-lived CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are generated by the thymoma in myasthenia gravis. Ann Neurol 50 (1): 64-72, 2001.
    14. Ströbel P, Helmreich M, Menioudakis G, et al.: Paraneoplastic myasthenia gravis correlates with generation of mature naive CD4(+) T cells in thymomas. Blood 100 (1): 159-66, 2002.
    15. Levy Y, Afek A, Sherer Y, et al.: Malignant thymoma associated with autoimmune diseases: a retrospective study and review of the literature. Semin Arthritis Rheum 28 (2): 73-9, 1998.
    16. Ritter JH, Wick MR: Primary carcinomas of the thymus gland. Semin Diagn Pathol 16 (1): 18-31, 1999.
    17. Voltz RD, Albrich WC, Nägele A, et al.: Paraneoplastic myasthenia gravis: detection of anti-MGT30 (titin) antibodies predicts thymic epithelial tumor. Neurology 49 (5): 1454-7, 1997.
    18. Gautel M, Lakey A, Barlow DP, et al.: Titin antibodies in myasthenia gravis: identification of a major immunogenic region of titin. Neurology 43 (8): 1581-5, 1993.
    19. Tarr PE, Sneller MC, Mechanic LJ, et al.: Infections in patients with immunodeficiency with thymoma (Good syndrome). Report of 5 cases and review of the literature. Medicine (Baltimore) 80 (2): 123-33, 2001.
    20. Montella L, Masci AM, Merkabaoui G, et al.: B-cell lymphopenia and hypogammaglobulinemia in thymoma patients. Ann Hematol 82 (6): 343-7, 2003.
    21. Cucchiara BL, Forman MS, McGarvey ML, et al.: Fatal subacute cytomegalovirus encephalitis associated with hypogammaglobulinemia and thymoma. Mayo Clin Proc 78 (2): 223-7, 2003.
    22. Morgenthaler TI, Brown LR, Colby TV, et al.: Thymoma. Mayo Clin Proc 68 (11): 1110-23, 1993.
    23. Souadjian JV, Enriquez P, Silverstein MN, et al.: The spectrum of diseases associated with thymoma. Coincidence or syndrome? Arch Intern Med 134 (2): 374-9, 1974.
    24. Thomas CR, Wright CD, Loehrer PJ: Thymoma: state of the art. J Clin Oncol 17 (7): 2280-9, 1999.
    25. Kondo K, Monden Y: Thymoma and myasthenia gravis: a clinical study of 1,089 patients from Japan. Ann Thorac Surg 79 (1): 219-24, 2005.
    26. Budde JM, Morris CD, Gal AA, et al.: Predictors of outcome in thymectomy for myasthenia gravis. Ann Thorac Surg 72 (1): 197-202, 2001.
    27. Evoli A, Minisci C, Di Schino C, et al.: Thymoma in patients with MG: characteristics and long-term outcome. Neurology 59 (12): 1844-50, 2002.
    28. Pan CC, Chen PC, Wang LS, et al.: Thymoma is associated with an increased risk of second malignancy. Cancer 92 (9): 2406-11, 2001.
    29. Moore KH, McKenzie PR, Kennedy CW, et al.: Thymoma: trends over time. Ann Thorac Surg 72 (1): 203-7, 2001.
    30. Ogawa K, Uno T, Toita T, et al.: Postoperative radiotherapy for patients with completely resected thymoma: a multi-institutional, retrospective review of 103 patients. Cancer 94 (5): 1405-13, 2002.
    31. Eng TY, Fuller CD, Jagirdar J, et al.: Thymic carcinoma: state of the art review. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 59 (3): 654-64, 2004.
    32. Buckley C, Newsom-Davis J, Willcox N, et al.: Do titin and cytokine antibodies in MG patients predict thymoma or thymoma recurrence? Neurology 57 (9): 1579-82, 2001.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: 8/, 015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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