Thymus gland is located in the area between the lungs in the chest region. Thymus gland plays an essential in development of immune cells in children and the gland itself varies in size throughout an individual’s life. The thymus gland enlarges during the childhood and shrinks in size with age. Thymus Cancer is a cancer of thymus gland and is a rare form of tumor. The thymus is made of a combination of immune cells or lymphocytes and lining or epithelial cells. It has been observed that thymus cancer originates from the epithelial or lining cells of the gland. There are no known exact causes or risks that predispose anyone to thymus cancer. In a majority of cases thymus cancer is asymptomatic and mostly detected when imaging studies are performed for unrelated health issues.

Thymus cancer is many times detected when the tumor grows in size and starts applying pressure on adjacent organs. Chest pain, fever, shortness of breath, weight loss and cough are some of the common symptoms of thymus cancer. Even when the tumor is discovered through advanced imaging techniques, diagnosis can only be performed when the tumor is surgically removed and examined or when a biopsy, i.e., surgical removal of a small portion of tissue for study under a microscope. The stages of thymus cancer are described based on the spread of cancer cells to other organs adjacent to the thymus gland and its spread to the distant organs in the body.

Thymus cancer is usually staged between Stage 1 to 4 depending on the spread of cancer cells and invasion into the tissue. Treatment usually involves surgical removal of the complete tumor and it has been observed that the success rate of treatment where the tumor was completely removed is higher. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy have been deployed for treatment. They are employed in place of surgery especially if the cancer becomes metastatic. The prognosis for thymus cancer depends on the complete removal of tumor during surgery. The survival rate after the surgery hugely depends on the stage at which the cancer has been detected. As there is no known cause of thymus cancer, there is also no known way of preventing it.

Summary: Thymus cancer occurs in the thymus gland which is placed between the lungs in the chest region. It has no known causes and this makes prevention and evaluation of cancer tougher. Treatment is carried out through surgical removal of tumor or through radiation and chemotherapy.