A thymoma is a cancer that develops in the thymus gland. Located in the upper chest between the lungs, this gland plays an important role in maintaining the body’s immune system by developing T lymphocytes (T cells), a type of white blood cell that recognizes and attacks virus-infected cells. There are two kinds of thymomas – primary and secondary. Primary tumors develop in the thymus gland, while secondary tumors originate elsewhere in the body and metastasize (spread) to the thymus gland.
How does cancer staging relate to cancer’s location in the body?
There are two staging systems used to classify thymomas. One is the Masaoka staging system, which separates thymomas into stages based on their location in the body, particularly how far they have spread:
- Stage I – The tumor is contained in its original location.
- Stage IIA – The tumor has started to spread to the outer layer of the thymus or nearby tissues.
- Stage IIB – The tumor has spread to the outer layer of the thymus or nearby tissues.
- Stage III – The tumor has started to grow into nearby tissues and organs.
- Stage IVA – The tumor has spread extensively to nearby tissues.
- Stage IVB – The tumor has metastasized (spread) to distant organs in the body.
Where can I go for thymoma treatment?
When caught early and treated by experienced physicians, thymomas typically have favorable outcomes. Moffitt Cancer Center treats a great number of thymoma patients each year, giving our physicians unparalleled experience with this malignancy. We perform thymoma staging tests in our own laboratories, so we receive patients’ results in a fast and efficient manner. Based on that information, we develop individualized treatment plans to give patients the best chance at achieving a favorable outcome and a positive quality of life.