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Thymic Malignancies

Treatment

The treatment of thymus cancer can be done through the following interventions:

  • Surgery: Surgery is the initial treatment option in early-stage thymus cancer. In patients with advanced-stage thymus tumors, the surgery is usually accompanied by other modes of treatment, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
  • With the advancements in technology and state-of-the-art surgical instruments, minimally invasive surgeries are available to remove the tumor with relatively lesser side effects. However, conventional surgery is still performed in some complex cases of thymus cancer.
  • The types of surgeries used to manage thymus cancer are thymectomy (removal of the thymus gland), mediastinal tumor resection, median sternotomy, thoracotomy or thoracoscopy, video-assisted thoracic surgery, robotic-assisted mediastinal tumor resection, extra-pleural pneumonectomy, and pleurectomy.
  • Radiation therapy: It uses high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells. The therapy is used before or after the surgery. When used before the surgery, it reduces the size of the tumor to be easily resected during surgery. It kills the remaining cancer cells when used after the surgery. In some patients, radiation therapy is used with chemotherapy (Chemoradiation therapy) to increase the overall efficacy of treatment.
  • In addition, more advanced equipment for radiation therapy is available that guides the radiation precisely on the tumor, thereby reducing the damage to normal, healthy tissues. Radiation therapy also lowers the risk of cancer recurrence.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs that kill rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells. It is combined with surgery or radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells more effectively. It is the preferred treatment option for patients with advanced cancer or not eligible for surgery. Chemotherapy is delivered through mouth or injection. The therapy is given to the patient in cycles. Each cycle includes a period of treatment followed by a period of rest to recover from the treatment's side effects. The treatment through chemotherapy lasts for about a month and consists of 4 to 6 cycles.
  • Targeted therapy: Cancer occurs in healthy cells due to genetic mutations. These gene mutations allow cancer cells to grow, divide, and spread. Targeted therapy targets specific gene mutations, thereby killing cancer cells. The cancer cells are analyzed for the presence of a particular gene mutation before initiating the targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is generally used in cases where the conventional treatment fails to treat or delay the progression of thymus cancer.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy boosts the immune system and increases its ability to kill cancer cells. Certain processes in the cancer cells prevent the cancer cells from being identified and killed by immune system cells. Immunotherapy drugs interfere with these processes and make the cancer cells more vulnerable to getting attacked and killed by immune system cells.

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