Thymus Cancer

Know More About Thymus Cancer

The thymus is a small organ that is located below the breastbone in the upper chest area above the heart. The thymus is the part of the lymphatic system that is responsible for the formation of white blood cells responsible for the production of white blood cells or lymphocytes. These cells are essential for the immune system of the body. Usually, cancer develops in the cells lining the thymus from outside. There are two rare types of cancer associated with it namely thymic carcinoma and thymoma.

In the case of thymoma, the cancer cells have an appearance similar to the normal cells of the body. They grow gradually and hardly go beyond the thymus. However, in the cases of thymic carcinoma, the cancer cells are different from normal tissues and cells. These have higher chances of getting spread to other parts of the body. Both of them are malignant tumors.

Causes of thymus cancer

The reason behind the development of thymus cancer is still unknown or is not specific. Any environmental, hereditary, or lifestyle link has not been reported for this category of cancer. It might develop due to exposure to radiation but there is no strong evidence present for that.

Usually, the risk of building this type of cancer increases when the age of an individual increase. It is rarely found in young people and children. Ethnicity can often play a major role in the development of diseases. It is more common in African Americans than Whites.

Stages of thymus cancer

There are various stages of cancer that have been set to devise the treatment and other procedures. There are 5 stages of thymic cancer.

Stage 1
Stage 1 cancer is defined when the tumor cells are present in the thymus. The sac present around the thymus gets occupied with the tumor cells.

Stage 2
In stage 2, the cancer cells spread into the fat around the sac along with it and often in the chest cavity lining.

Stage 3
At this stage, the tumor starts spreading to other organs nearby. These include the lungs, large blood vessels, and the region around the heart.

Stage 4
This stage has been divided into IV A and IV B. The former type has spread to the regions around the heart and lungs. The latter stage involves the spread of cancer cells to the lymph system.

Thymic carcinoma has more chances of recurrence compared to thymoma. Cancer can spread through tissues, the lymph system, and blood. It is, therefore, necessary to keep a follow-up after the removal as well.

Signs and Symptoms

The commonly observed symptoms of thymic cancer are:

  • The affected individual may feel a swelling in the neck, face, upper body, and arms.
  • There might be a development of cough that does not go away.
  • Chest pain and hoarseness of voice are also common. Muscle weakness and drooping eyelids can also be observed.
  • The cough may also have sputum with blood at times or the patient might also experience trouble swallowing.
  • Weight loss can also be observed.


To diagnose thymic cancer, a lot of diagnostic procedures are followed.

Medical history and physical examination

The doctor will run a general physical examination for identifying the signs and symptoms of thymic cancer. The signs of the presence of any lumps or unusual mass formation can be seen. The medical history of the patient is also taken to formulate the correct pathway for the treatment.

X-ray and CT Scan

The X-ray refers to a type of energy beam of light that provides the doctor with a detailed internal view of the organs. It helps them to identify abnormal situations. The CT scan also provides images from inside. During the process, the patient may be injected with a dye to get a better view of the tissues and cells.

PET Scan

The term PET stands for positron emission tomography scan. As a part of this process, a minor amount of radioactive glucose is injected into the body and its movement is traced. Since the malignant tissues will be using radioactive sugar, the area becomes more brighter and visible.


A biopsy involves taking a sample of the cells or tissues from the body with the help of a needle. The sample taken is then viewed under a microscope.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Commonly called an MRI, this procedure involves using radio waves, magnets, and computers to get an advanced image of regions inside the body organs. This diagnostic method is also known as Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging.

What could be the side effects of these treatments?

Usually, after the cancer treatments, the patients can experience a variety of side effects. These can range from mild to severe depending on the intensity of treatment and immunity of the body.

  • The most commonly observed side effects are fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight changes, hair loss, and skin issues.
  • After getting hormone therapy, one might experience hot flushes, bone loss, increased risk of fractures, memory issues, and even erectile dysfunction.
  • Immunotherapy may cause irritation, rashes, or blisters. Diarrhea can also be experienced in some cases.
  • Targeted therapy can interfere with healing processes like wound healing and blood clotting. There could be dry skin, change in hair color, nail changes, and high blood pressure as well.
  • Often, the health issues after surgery can include severe conditions like pneumonia. The wounds become more susceptible to infections along with frequent and quick bleeding. The patient might be required to stay at the hospital for a few days after the surgery.


The available treatments for thymic cancers are many. Based on the stage that a patient is in, the treatments and medications are administered.

Surgical Procedures

Surgery is the primary treatment that is done to cure patients of cancer. The doctor removes all the visible tumor cells during the operation. Post-surgery, the doctors may also perform radiation therapy to get rid of the remaining cells if any. The additional therapies provided after surgery are called adjuvant therapy.

Hormone Therapy

There are certain hormones whose fluctuation can lead to an increase in the activity of cancer cells. To avoid this from happening, certain hormones are injected into the body that binds with the receptors and blocks the channels that might lead to enhanced levels of tumor cells.

Targeted Therapy

This therapy uses particular drugs or medications that are used to destroy or kill cancer cells. To treat thymic cancer, two kinds of targeted therapies are used:

  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors
    To deal with recurrent thymic carcinoma or recurrent thymoma, the inhibitors named lenvatinib and sunitinib are used. These substances block the signals required for the formation of cancer cells.
  • Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors
    These inhibitors used in this therapy id Everolimus that help in inhibiting the protein named mTOR for preventing the growth of cancer cells along with inhibition of blood vessels required by tumor cells to grow and move.


This is a kind of biologicl therapy that involves injecting substances that help boost and restore the body’s natural defense mechanism. It helps the body to identify harmful cells and destroy them.


Chemotherapy involves working on the tumor cells either by limiting their growth or killing them. Certain chemicals are administered in the patient’s body to ensure maximum targets. When chemicals are given through muscle or gain, they enter the bloodstream and move throughout the body. This is called systemic chemotherapy.


Why should you consider Ayurveda?

The field of Ayurveda has witnessed major growth and research in recent years. The methods of healing have proved to be effective and work slowly by analyzing the body’s functioning mechanism. It aims to balance your energy and lifestyle by boosting the defenses of the body.

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