Thursday, July 12, 2018 by Ralph Flores
Thymomas are part of tumors that develop on the thymus, an organ beneath the breastbone that helps transport lymphocytes (white blood cells that are used for fighting infection) throughout that body. The thymus is most active during childhood, reaching its greatest size at puberty. The organ shrinks in adulthood.
There are three types of thymic tumors, which account for less than one percent of all cancers.
- Most thymic tumors are thymomas, which grow slowly and are begin outside the thymus. These can become aggressive and invade neighboring organs in the chest. On average, 500 people in the U.S. get thymomas, with a third of them having an autoimmune disorder called myasthenia gravis, which cause muscle weakness.
- Thymic carcinoma, on the other hand, develops more quickly than thymomas and can spread outside of the thymus.
- Thymic carcinoids are rare cancers that usually appear on the lungs and the digestive tract, but can sometimes develop in the thymus. These develop slowly but can recur even with treatment.
Known symptoms of thymoma
For the most part, over half of thymomas do not present symptoms, with physicians diagnosing them during imaging studies for other cases. In other cases, symptoms of thymoma could occur based on the size of the tumor and its effect on nearby organs.
Some symptoms may include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
Thymomas can spread to the lining of the lungs or heart or even to tissues outside the chest. When the tumor is a carcinoma, it can metastasize to distant organs and cause other symptoms.
Body systems affected by thymoma
In cancerous tumors in the thymus, a process called staging helps determine the spread of cancer.
- Stage I: The cancer is isolated in the thymus and its surrounding capsule.
- Stage II: The cancer has spread into the fat surrounding the thymus or the lining of the lung
- Stage III: The cancer has spread to nearby organs and blood vessels.
- Stage IVA: The cancer has spread into the lining of the lung or the sac around the heart.
- Stage IVB: The cancer has spread to distant organs through the blood vessels.
Food items or nutrients that may prevent thymoma
No information is available on specific food items that can prevent thymomas; however, a healthy diet can greatly reduce the likelihood of cancer, including those that affect the thymus. Some recommended foods include:
- Cruciferous vegetables – These are high in isothiocyanates, which help destroy potential carcinogens. Foods include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale.
- Turmeric – It contains curcumin, which has been reported to prevent certain forms of cancer.
- Mushrooms – Immune-boosting compounds in mushroom, which include lentinan, beta glucan, lectin, and thioproline, inhibit the growth of potential cancer cells. Some examples are Agaricus blazei murrill (ABM mushroom), Coriolus versicolor (Asian turkey tail mushroom), shiitake, reishi, maitake (Hen-of-the-wood), Cordyceps oglossoides, and Phellinus linteus.
- Garlic and onions – These contain allium compounds which aid in breaking down cancer cells and prevent carcinogens from developing.
- Flax – The lignans found in flaxseeds suppress the growth of cancer cells in the body.
- Hot peppers – Capsaicin, which gives peppers their heat, aid in neutralizing nitrosamines in cancer cells.
Treatments, management options for thymoma
Most healthcare professionals will recommend surgery as the treatment route for thymomas. However, in the event that the tumor cannot be removed completely, then other options such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy drugs will be used to address the condition.
Where to learn more
Thymomas are tumors that develop on the thymus.
Thymomas can become aggressive and invade neighboring organs in the chest.
Thymomas, for the most part, do not present symptoms.
Symptoms of thymoma occur depending on the size of the tumor and its effect on nearby organs.
A healthy diet can greatly reduce the likelihood of cancer, including those that affect the thymus.