Symptoms of thymoma and thymic carcinoma will vary from patient to patient depending on the severity of the condition and whether the tumor has spread to other areas of the body. In the early stages of the condition, patients may not notice any symptoms at all. When symptoms are present, they may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Cough, which may contain blood
- Chest pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If the tumor is affecting the main blood vessel between the head and heart, known as superior vena cava, superior vena cava syndrome may develop. Symptoms of this syndrome can include:
- Swelling in the face, neck, and upper chest, sometimes with a bluish color
- Swelling of the visible veins in this part of the body
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
Thymoma and thymic carcinoma can cause secondary conditions that develop because of the tumor. These secondary conditions often include autoimmune disorders that cause the body to attack itself, such as myasthenia gravis, red cell aplasia, hypogammaglobulinemia and other autoimmune disorders. Symptoms of these autoimmune disorders may also be present.
Causes and Risk Factors
In the United States, thymoma is most commonly diagnosed in Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The risk of developing this condition increases with age and most patients are in their 70s when they are diagnosed.