Types and Goals of Treatment for Thymus Cancer

Different types of treatment have different goals. These are the different treatments for thymus cancer and their goals. You may have more than one of these treatments.

  • Surgery. Surgery is the most common treatment for thymus cancer. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor and some of the tissue around it. In almost all cases the doctor removes the whole thymus gland.

  • Radiation therapy. The goal of radiation therapy is to kill cancer cells using X-rays. Doctors use this treatment most often to get rid of any remaining cancer cells after surgery. Doctors also use this therapy to treat recurrent disease. People with thymus cancer will usually get radiation along with other treatments.

  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs. Its goal is to kill cancer cells and reduce the chance that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body. Doctors may give chemotherapy either before, after, or in place of surgery. They may also use it to treat the cancer if it has spread to other parts of the body.

  • Hormone therapy. Hormones are produced by glands and naturally circulate in the blood stream, but they can cause certain types of cancers to grow. Those cancers might be given treatments with drugs called corticosteroids to reduce the production or activity of hormones. 

Follow-up exams are an important part of treatment for thymus cancer. You will need tests and exams to monitor your health. Follow-up tests may include chest X-rays, CT (computed tomography) scans, and blood tests. Sometimes your doctor may order other imaging tests as well.

Researchers continue to test new medicines and treatments in clinical trials for thymus cancer. If you would like to participate in a clinical trial, ask your doctor if there are any for which you may qualify.

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