Thymic cancer is a cancer of the thymus gland or thymic tissue. The thymus gland is in the upper part of the mediastinum (chest), behind the sternum and extending upwards into the root of the neck. It is a small organ—reaching its maximum weight of about one ounce during puberty—that slowly decreases in size during adulthood, and is gradually replaced by fat tissue. During fetal development and childhood the thymus produces white blood cells (lymphocytes), which travel to lymph nodes (bean-sized collections of immune system cells) throughout the body. There they help the immune system protect the body from infections.
The thymus contains two types of cells: epithelial cells and lymphocytes. Thymic epithelial cells are the cells that line the thymus. They are the origin cells of thymoma and thymic carcinoma. If lymphocytes become malignant (cancerous), they can develop into lymphoma.
Thymic Carcinomas… Malignant Thymomas… invasive thymoma… Thymic epithelial tumor… Thymic carcinoid tumors…
Not words you want to hear.
Whatever you call them, thymic-related carcinomas and malignancies are difficult to diagnose, can be painful to treat, and bring about confusion and fear. While great strides are being made in other areas of cancer research and treatment, thymic-related cancers and malignancies are relatively rare and are often ignored by medical researchers. For patients, this means that information is difficult to find, treatment protocols are not solidly established, and new drugs and treatments are not easily found.