Thymoma is a disease in which malignant cells on the thymus grow in an uncontrolled fashion with the ability to travel to other parts of the body. It is caused by a genetic mutation in normal cells that turns them into malignant cells and can develop spontaneously.
Thymoma typically starts on the thymus and grows over time. The diagnosis of a thymoma is made with a CT of the chest and biopsy of the mass.
CT of the chest—This study is performed in radiology. It provides information about the size of the tumor, relationship of the tumor to vital structures, and whether any of the lymph nodes near the tumor or middle of the chest are concerning for the spread of cancer.
Once the patient is diagnosed with thymoma, he or she undergoes studies to determine the clinical stage of thymoma. The following tests provide information on the degree of the spread of cancer:
PET-CT—This study is performed in radiology. It provides information about the spread of cancer to lymph nodes and other parts of the body except for the brain.
This provides clinical staging for patients with thymoma. For patients with early stage thymoma, we perform additional tests to determine if they can safely undergo surgery.
Cardiac testing—These studies are typically performed by a cardiologist. They are a set of tests to determine if the patient’s heart can safely undergo the stress of surgery.
These studies allow us to advise patients with thymoma about the best treatment option for them.
In our practice, we offer robot-assisted thymectomy and thymoma resection for patients with early stage thymoma.