Diagnosis of Thymus Cancer

Diagnosis of Thymus Cancer

Diagnosis and Prognosis of Thymus Cancer

Following tests and procedures may be used for diagnosis of thymus cancer:

  • Physical exam and history: An examination of the body to check for general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patients health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
  • Chest x-ray: may suggest the presence of a mediastinal mass that may indicate towards the presence of a thymic tumor.
  • CT scan (CAT scan): The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the chest. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
  • PET scan (positron emission tomography scan): A procedure to find malignant tumor cells in the body. A small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein. The PET scannerrotates around the body and makes a picture of where glucose is being used in the body. Malignant tumor cells show up brighter in the picture because they are more active and take up more glucose than normal cells do.
  • Biopsy : When the diagnosis of Thymoma is clear cut, there is no need for any preoperative biopsy. However if on the CT scan there is evidence to suggest that the tumour might be unresectable or an alternative diagnosis is expected, a Biopsy may be indicated . The biopsy is usually done using a fine needle (FNAC). Sometimes a wide needle is used to remove a sample of cells and this is called a core biopsy. A pathologist will view the sample under a microscope to check for cancer. If thymoma or thymic carcinoma is diagnosed, the pathologist will determine the type of cancer cell in the tumor. There may be more than one type of cancer cell in a thymoma. Open Biopsy is not recommended in Thymoma for fear of disseminating cancer cells into the chest.

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The prognosis (chance of recovery):

The prognosis (chance of recovery) depends on the following:

  • The stage of cancer.
  • The type of cancer cell.
  • Whether the tumor can be removed completely by surgery.
  • The patients general health.
  • Whether cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).