Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma

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Overview

City of Hope is the leading center in Southern California for treating cancers of the thymus, prompting physicians all over the globe to refer cases to us. Our patient-centered approach brings together a team of compassionate medical experts who act with urgency and collaborate seamlessly to defeat thymic malignancies.

Request an Appointment

If you have been diagnosed with thymoma or thymic carcinoma, or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-4673. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.

When it comes to surgery, experience counts for a lot. And City of Hope surgeons have among the most experience on the West Coast with robotic surgery for thymoma and thymic carcinoma. These are the gentler procedures that use smaller incisions, reducing pain and recovery time.
 
We have boosted our already extraordinary level of care in recent years with an influx of new faculty in medical oncology who are world experts in cancers of the thymus. Bringing their unique perspectives to City of Hope enables us to help patients in way only a handful of centers anywhere can.
 
We offer advanced technologies and specialized techniques:
  • Comprehensive diagnostic tools
  • Innovative, minimally invasive surgical approaches that reduce side effects and recovery time
  • Highly precise radiation delivery, including helical Tomotherapy
  • Individually customized chemotherapy and hormone therapy regimens
  • Clinical trials that offer promising new approaches to detect and treat thymus cancer

Patients also have access to our extensive slate of supportive care services, to help you and your caregivers achieve and maintain a better quality of life during and after your treatment for thymus cancer.

What are thymic malignancies?

Thymoma and thymic carcinoma are rare cancers of the thymus gland, which is located in the chest behind the breast bone. In children, the thymus gland produces immune cells; in adults, the thymus gland no longer serves an important function.
 
Thymomas are generally slow-growing, although some can be aggressive and spread in the bloodstream. In contrast, thymic carcinomas are the most aggressive tumors of the thymus gland.
 
Thymomas and thymic carcinomas may be found by chance on chest X-rays or CT scans done for other reasons. Both malignancies may cause symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath.

Treatment options for thymoma and thymic carcinomas

Every patient is different, with different needs. At City of Hope, we treat you as a valued individual. Our entire thymic malignancies team works together to bring you advanced, minimally invasive surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and supportive care options that will deliver the best clinical and functional outcomes for you. You can also enroll in clinical trials for promising investigational treatments that are not offered elsewhere.

Surgery

Removing tumors surgically is a mainstay of treatment for thymic malignancies at City of Hope, using minimally invasive robotic procedures if at all possible. Because our surgeons have amassed a level of experience that few centers can match, they can operate on some patients with advanced disease who have been turned away elsewhere.
 
For thymoma, if a tumor is small, your surgeon may recommend surgical removal without a biopsy. But if the tumor is large or if the diagnosis of thymoma is not certain, your surgeon may recommend that you undergo a computed tomography-guided core needle biopsy, which is done in radiology.
 
Thymectomy, or surgical removal of the thymus, also may be used to treat myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease closely related to thymoma that causes muscle weakness. In fact, a 2016 New England Journal of Medicine study following patients for three years after surgery showed that thymectomy resulted in better clinical outcomes for myasthenia gravis. City of Hope’s expertise in this surgery can help myasthenia gravis patients or even achieve remission.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

Chemotherapy also is a standard treatment, and some patients may receive radiation therapy after surgery. We offer stereotactic body radiation, a new technology that reduces side effects by delivering focused and precise radiation while taking into account breathing motion, often done alongside image-guided radiation therapy.
 
Beyond fighting disease, your care continues long after treatment is completed, and we are committed to helping you and your loved ones manage your recovery.

 

City of Hope’s renowned physicians and researchers utilize the latest technologies to treat thymic malignancies, all while providing unmatched compassionate care. 

Diagnostic Radiology

Arnold J. Rotter, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Diagnostic Radiology

Medical Oncology

Marianna Koczywas, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Medical Oncology
Erminia Massarelli, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.

Clinical Specialties

  • Medical Oncology
  • Head and Neck Cancers
  • Lung Cancers
Karen Reckamp, M.D., M.S.

Clinical Specialties

  • Medical Oncology
Ravi Salgia, M.D., Ph.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Medical Oncology

Radiation Oncology

Arya Amini, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Radiation Oncology
Sagus Sampath, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Radiation Oncology

Thoracic Surgery

Jae Y. Kim, M.D.

Clinical Specialties

  • Thoracic Surgery
Dan J. Raz, M.D., M.A.S.

Clinical Specialties

  • Thoracic Surgery

Research for thymic malignancies

City of Hope is a recognized leader in thymus cancer research. We offer access to numerous clinical trials and new therapies that are not readily available elsewhere. Our latest research includes developing more precise surgical and radiation techniques for better tumor removal, testing advanced immunotherapies and other innovative targeted therapies for thymic carcinoma, and boosting quality of life for our patients and survivors.

 

Living with thymoma and thymic carcinomas

When you come to City of Hope, you automatically gain access to an unparalleled array of support services to help you and your family take each step during and after your treatment for thymoma or thymic carcinoma. We can help with the following concerns and more:

  • Managing side effects
  • Pain management
  • Navigating the health care system
  • Your emotional, social and spiritual health
  • Fertility and sexuality concerns
  • Handling and coping with stress
  • Staying healthy and active
  • Healthy cooking and eating
  • Healing arts
  • Caregiver skills
  • Restoring normalcy in your family, job or school routine

Learn more about these resources at our Living with Cancer or Supportive Care Medicine sites.

SUPPORT THE THYMOMA MALIGNANCIES PROGRAM

We deliver exquisite care at the leading edge of cancer treatment. It takes the help of a lot of caring people to make hope a reality for our patients. City of Hope was founded by individuals' philanthropic efforts over 100 years ago. Their efforts – and those of our supporters today – have built the foundation for the care we provide and the research we conduct. It enables City of Hope to strive for new breakthroughs and better therapies – helping more people enjoy longer, better lives.

For more information on supporting this specific program, please contact our Philanthropy department at [email protected] or calling 800-667-5310. Or, you can Donate Now to make a gift to support all the research at City of Hope.

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