A thymoma is a type of slow-growing tumour in the thymus gland that usually appears in people in the fourth and fifth decades of life. It is the most common tumour detected in the anterior mediastinum in adults. Up to half of the thymomas are symptomless or not exhibiting any symptoms of the disease. Nonetheless, common symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain may be present when symptoms manifest.
Diagnosis is phenomenal when detected in their early stages. Surgeons, not to mention thoracic (chest) surgeons and surgical oncologists, usually treat thymoma. If other treatments indicate an aggressive thymoma or thymic carcinoma, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists may be involved in the treatment team.
Thymomas are usually benign but may become malignant and spread to other organs such as the lungs. It is not known what causes these tumours to develop. Still, they are associated with various conditions, including myasthenia gravis, where the immune system mounts an attack on multiple muscles in the body. At least 30% of individuals with a thymoma will also have myasthenia gravis. Patients with thymoma may be asymptomatic or may present with symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing or a persistent cough. Once identified by imaging studies or biopsy, treatment usually involves surgery and may also involve radiation therapy to reduce the likelihood of tumour recurrence.