Am I At Risk for Thymus Cancer?

There is no way to know for sure if you’re going to get thymus cancer. And there is no known way to prevent it. Certain factors can make you more likely to get a certain type of cancer than another person. These are called risk factors. At this time, doctors do not know of any risk factors for thymus cancer. However, the National Cancer Institute states that people with thymus cancer frequently also have an autoimmune disease, such as one of the following: 

  • Myasthenia gravis is a disease that causes the immune system to attack muscle cell receptors and block nerve activity that make muscles contract. This causes weakness of certain muscles. This disease increases the chance of having or developing a kind of thymus cancer called a thymoma.

  • Red cell aplasia is a rare blood disorder of red-blood-cell production.

  • Hypogammaglobulinemia is another rare disease and is associated with thymomas.

Some studies have suggested a link between being exposed to radiation in the upper chest area and thymus cancer, but this has not been proved. Men and women are equally likely to develop a tumor in the thymus. The majority of people with thymus cancer are in their 40s or 50s.

There is ongoing research to find factors that increase a person’s likelihood of getting thymus cancer.


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