What Is a Thymoma?

Thymoma is a cancer that develops in the cells on the surface of the thymus gland. This gland produces T lymphocytes (T cells), which play an important role in the function of a person’s immune system. Thymomas are a fairly uncommon malignancy and are usually slow-growing. They also rarely spread beyond the thymus. When diagnosed and treated in its early stages, thymomas generally have a favorable survival rate. And, when patients are treated by experienced cancer specialists such as those in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Thoracic Oncology Program, they often have a better chance at a favorable outcome and an improved quality of life.

What are the symptoms of a thymoma?

Thymoma symptoms can vary from patient to patient. Some may not experience any noticeable symptoms, while others develop respiratory symptoms such as a persistent, dry cough, shortness of breath and a dull aching pain in the chest. Other common thymoma symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling in the hands or face
  • Frequent infections

Because their symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions, thymomas are sometimes initially thought to be pneumonia, a chest cold or another condition. Medical imaging tests and lab tests are needed to confirm a thymoma diagnosis.

The oncologists at Moffitt are highly experienced and able to recognize the warning signs of thymoma. With the help of advanced diagnostic methods, we can quickly and correctly diagnose thymoma patients so they can receive the treatment they need right away. Based on the size, stage and location of a patient’s thymoma, we will develop a treatment plan that has been tailored to address their unique cancer. We also have a team of supportive care specialists such as counselors, social workers and dietitians all under the same roof, making it easy for Moffitt patients to get the care they need.

If you are showing symptoms of thymoma or have been recently diagnosed with this malignancy, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online to speak with a Moffitt physician about your options. Referrals are not required to schedule a consultation.