Tumors of the Mediastinum (Thymoma and Thymic Cancers)

The central part of the chest is known as the mediastinum. The mediastinum houses vital organs, such as the heart and the great vessels emanating from the heart. Tumors may develop near these structures. One such tumor is known as a thymoma. Although relatively rare compared to other types of tumors, it is one of the more common mediastinal tumors. This tumor arises from the thymus gland, an organ that is involved in the development of the immune system as a youth but becomes quiescent in adolescence and young adulthood. Often, thymomas are diagnosed incidentally (when imaging such as a chest X-ray or chest CT scan is done for another reason); oftentimes, it is not associated with any symptoms. Sometimes, its presence can be associated with a neurologic condition known as myasthenia gravis. Thymic carcinomas are not thymomas, but they are also a rare type of tumor. They can present in a similar manner to thymomas and generally are not associated with other conditions.

There is no standardized staging system for these diseases, but there is an ongoing effort lead by surgeons at Yale to better stage and characterize this disease (www.ITMIG.org). Due to their rarity, it is absolutely critical that the care rendered for patients with these conditions be done by surgeons and physicians at Yale Thoracic Surgery who have the added expertise to determine the best therapy for you and who can help you select the best treatment plan. In most cases, surgery to remove the tumor is included as part of the treatment plan to address thymomas and thymic cancers, either alone or as part of other therapies, such as chemotherapy. 

Our team includes nationally and internationally renowned surgeons and specialists who are dedicated to helping patients with thymic malignancies in the most compassionate manner. Our surgeons have extensive experience with all aspects associated with the diagnosis and treatment of thymomas and thymic cancers and have experience in using the most advanced surgical approaches and techniques to treat your disease. They can perform thymic resections through a variety of minimally invasive approaches, including video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), robotic-assisted thoracic surgery (RATS), and transcervical or subxiphoid surgery. In more advanced and complex cases, they can also remove the tumors using traditional open median sternotomy. 

At Yale Thoracic Surgery, our focus is on you as a patient, not just your cancer. Our multidisciplinary team will create a personalized treatment plan for you, one that reflects your thoughts and concerns and includes the most advanced surgical and medical therapies available. Our team members will walk you through the surgical and treatment process, step by step, so that you know what you can expect every step of the way.