Thymoma Los Angeles

The thymus is located in the upper chest just below the neck. It is a small organ that produces certain types of white blood cells before birth and during childhood. These white blood cells are called lymphocytes and are an important part of the body’s immune system. Once released from the thymus, lymphocytes travel to lymph nodes where they help to fight infections. The thymus gland becomes smaller in adulthood and is gradually taken over by fat tissue.

Although rare, thymomas are the most common type of thymic cancer. They arise from thymic epithelial cells, which make up the covering of the thymus. Thymomas frequently contain lymphocytes, which are non-cancerous. Thymomas are classified as either non-invasive (previously called “benign”) or invasive (previously called “malignant”). Noninvasive thymomas are those in which the tumor is encapsulated and easy to remove. Invasive thymomas have spread to nearby structures (such as the lungs) and are more difficult to remove. Approximately 30% to 40% of thymomas are of the invasive type.

Thymoma affects men and women equally. It is usually diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 60 years. Thymomas are uncommon in children.