Patient Comments: Thymoma - Symptoms and Signs


What were the signs and symptoms of thymoma experienced by you, a friend, or family member? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: drh, 25-34 (Patient) Published: July 14

I got my first thymoma symptoms in September 2019. I had a wet cough that didn’t disappear even after I had taken a lot of medicines. My doctor said maybe I got bronchitis. Then I lost my weight starting February 2020. The cough had relieved a lot. I thought my bronchitis was almost cured. Then May 2020, I felt left chest pain and shortness of breath especially when I moved my body to the left. Then I got MSCT scan, and found I had an anterior mediastinum mass. I got surgery then, with result thymoma B2, stage IV B.

Comment from: Rebecca, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 11

I had severe right chest pain for over 6 years, persistent dry cough, and always felt something stuck in my chest like a grape, and so fatigued that it reduced my working hours. All was put on asthma and chest infection and muscle pain. All chest x-rays were negative. When I developed jaw pain and right hand numbness, the doctor sent me for CT scan, and that showed a mass on the superior vena cava. It was surgically removed and histology showed stage 1 type B thymoma. I am still taking strong painkillers for chest pain.

Comment from: Lisa, 35-44 Female (Caregiver) Published: July 05

My first symptoms of thymoma were 3 days of left sided chest pain, cough which was dry, pain in my left arm and armpit, and numbness in some fingers. I had pain on leaning forward, and swallowing difficulties (but only realized the difference in swallowing after removal of thymoma). The doctors excluded heart related disease so initially it was diagnosed as pleurisy.

Comment from: M.L., 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 20

I was having chronic fatigue for 10 years and a chronic low level elevation of white blood cells. Because of my family history of cancer I was sent to a hematologist who ran a CAT scan and discovered my thymoma. Because of the fact that it had grown and wrapped around my large vessels of the heart like a hotdog bun it was inoperable (stage 4b). I was aggressively treated with radiation and chemotherapy and am alive and well today! The tumor is a dead, I have scarred over piece of tissue now.

Comment from: Midian, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 02

I had severe pain when trying to take a deep breath, I also had pain in my collarbone area. I felt pretty miserable but put this down to my fibromyalgia. I went to the nurse practitioner who heard crackles in my chest and my temperature was up. He sent me to the hospital straight away for chest x-ray. This showed I had pleurisy and pneumonia. I was all set to leave and a respiratory specialist came in and said a lump had been found in the thymus area. I am now waiting to hear from thoracic surgeon about thymoma.

Comment from: Sarah3, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: December 04

Chest pain and shortness of breath were my symptoms of thymoma.

Comment from: Keith, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: October 01

I developed an annoying, persistent and non-productive cough that led my physician to order an x-ray of my chest. This revealed a shadow behind my sternum, which in turn led to a CT scan and the discovery of the thymoma. It was quite large and very close to my heart. In subsequent surgery it was found to have invaded the pericardium, as well as my diaphragm. A portion of the pericardium was removed, as was the affected area of the diaphragm. We do not yet know the pathology.

Comment from: Pat, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: July 24

My thymoma was asymptomatic, no symptoms at all. It was discovered by a chest x-ray after my husband and I returned from a cruise with sore throats and chest congestion.

Comment from: Pheebe, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 01

My thymoma was found during a medical test I was having. It had to be removed because it was pretty big already. One of my ribs had to be broken to get to it. The only symptoms that I recall having was a cough I would get that was so strong that I would literally run to restroom to throw up the fluid in my throat. I would turn red and I couldn’t breathe until I threw up all I could. And when I would walk, I would hear a wheezing in my chest. It’s going on 2 years since my surgery and I am starting to cough a lot and having to clear my throat. My voice is raspy just like it was for a couple of months after my surgery. I did make the mistake of not having my 6 month checkup, due to medical insurance issues.

Comment from: CJS, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 29

I have had a long history of bronchitis, chronic cough, horrific tiredness, double vision, occasionally have difficulty swallowing, and easily become short of breath. I have acclimatized and lived with my issues which no one could ever resolve. Recently I have had higher blood sugars than I normally do (I don't know if this has anything to do with the thymoma or not). My thymoma was indicated by a CAT scan quite a few years ago but the report did not make it to my chart. Last fall I had a chest x-ray again for bronchitis followed by a CAT scan that indicated the thymoma and then the years ago report was found and it has doubled in size. I am having surgery next month and hope to find relief from my symptoms after it is removed.


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Comment from: Lark Allen, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: October 31

In January 2017, I started to have taste abnormalities and everything tasted salty. I started to not crave or want to eat sweets and I had had a sweet tooth all my life. In February 2017, I was diagnosed with oral thrush and treated with nystatin oral suspension for 14 days. It had never fully resolved. I had also moved homes in February. In 2 months I lost 20 lb., from 155 lb. to 135 lb. When I saw the doctor again in March 2017, she attributed my weight loss to stress from moving and told me to make an appointment with an ENT. I never made the appointment. In July 2017, I saw a new doctor. She had me undergo a lot of blood tests. She found I had a low vitamin B-12 level. She had me get a chest x-ray and that is when they first saw a large anterior mediastinal mass. I had a CT scan and it showed it was 11 x 8 x 6 cm. I had the first biopsy in October 2017, where there was not enough cells for diagnosis by the pathologist. I had a repeat biopsy 2 weeks later which revealed a thymoma stage 2b. I still have the salty taste in my mouth. I hope my story helps others.

Comment from: SRM, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: October 05

Since being diagnosed with a thymus tumor in 2010 I have read many articles on initial symptoms of thymoma, I have yet to read of any symptom that I presented with. I developed unexplained bruising in the center of my chest, and as it did not fade with time I was sent for a chest x-ray resulting in my diagnosis. I was told blood vessels were being forced toward the surface by the tumor resulting in the bruising. I did not have any other symptoms. I hope my own experience may be helpful to others.

Comment from: Thymoma Joe, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: January 19

I had an incessant cough for about three months. Then I had gastrointestinal problems which turned out to be vasculitis. Next was double vision which turned out to be myasthenia gravis. Finally, I started having joint pain which was the result of lupus. A CAT scan and biopsy led to a diagnosis of stage four thymoma which had spread to the pleura on my right lung. I did four rounds of chemotherapy which caused the tumors to shrink considerably. Unfortunately, the main tumor was not dissectible. So I then did ten rounds of radiation. While doing the radiation, I began to have severe shortness of breath. A blood test showed that my hemoglobin had gone down to 6.2. A bone marrow biopsy led to a diagnosis of pure red blood cell aplasia and 8 months of prednisone. Now the aplasia is gone. The main tumor has shrunk considerably thanks to the radiation. And except for a mild case of peripheral neuropathy, I'm feeling pretty good. Now it's all about CAT scans and keeping everything in check.

Comment from: Julianne, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 08

My thymoma was discovered because I asked for an MRI because I had smoked for many years and two friends have lung cancer. They did not find cancer, but did find a 9 cm mass in my chest cavity. After a biopsy and CT/PET scan, they were (mostly) certain it was a thymoma and they cracked my chest to take it out. In retrospect, I had vague pain in my chest and pain/weakness radiating down my left arm from time to time. I had a sharp, stabbing pain in the bottom of my lung if I bent to clip my furthest toe nail. I had no other symptoms. The mass had not invaded any other area. It was encapsulated and was removed entirely. I was in the hospital for about 78 hours, including the surgery. I was off all pain medicines except Tylenol 48 hours post-surgery. The nurses and my husband had me walking at the hospital 48 hours after surgery and every day thereafter. I was able to go out with friends in 8 days. Although facing a cracked chest was frightening, it turns out that because it's not a load-bearing area, not a joint, has few muscles or nerves, it's not such a difficult pain to endure. It stung and sometimes ached, but I could stand it. For a couple of days, it itched like crazy. I took Benadryl. Today I am 4.5 weeks post-surgery, back to work and feeling very good. I was much luckier than some others who have written here, and I share my story just to say that sometimes it's not so bad. I'm very grateful that the thymoma was my only problem (so far as I know), that it was discovered and removed intact and that I was in good health and relatively thin, so the recovery was fairly easy. I hope others have a similar experience.

Comment from: daisy, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: September 09

I had a thymoma type B3 diagnosed by fine needle biopsy. And doctor said I need surgery to take out the tumor, for me its resectable (direct removal). Prior to that I lost too much weight, lost appetite, I had oral thrush in my mouth, difficulty of swallowing, fatigue, muscle weakness, was sleepy always, and coughing. Currently I am still waiting for my schedule of operation, it will take probably 5 to 7 days stay in the hospital.

Comment from: Laurie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 21

I had a thymoma removed and this May will be my 5 year checkup. My only symptoms were a heartbeat that I could feel in my throat which later proved to be a benign irregular heart beat called a first beat, and 3 bouts of bronchitis in 4 months. That's when my primary care doctor ordered a chest x-ray. It was not thymic carcinoma thankfully, but it was large and there was no separation on the CAT scan of the tumor between my heart and lungs. I did 3 rounds of chemotherapy which shrunk it greatly and then the surgery to remove. Very fortunate and surgeon said if not discovered when it was and the tumor attached to my heart and or lungs, I would have been in big trouble. No MG (myasthenia gravis), no re-growth so far as well and happy to report I am doing great. Looking forward to celebrating that 5 year anniversary! My very best wishes to anyone going through this. It was not easy and was very scary stuff, but you do what you have to do.


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Comment from: Carol R, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 10

I lost my voice. I was sent to an ear, nose and throat specialist who couldn't detect a problem so sent me for voice therapy. All was going well until I lost my voice again. The therapist checked and discovered that my left vocal cord was paralyzed. I was then sent for a CT scan where they discovered the tumor which was pressing on a nerve which was attached to my vocal cord. A biopsy revealed a thymoma. My surgeon said it was too close to my aorta for surgery so I had three rounds of chemotherapy and 5 weeks of radiation. The tumor shrunk a lot. They now feel that what is left is scar tissue. That was 4 1/2 years ago.

Comment from: Journey 2, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: October 27

I feel it important to point out that I had no other symptoms at all other than an unexplained bruise in the center of my chest. As this did not go with time I had chest x-ray, and it was diagnosed as thymoma in 2010. Due to the tumor’s location surgery was not an option, so I underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy early 2011. I had no problem with chemotherapy, and the radiotherapy caused problems for a short while with pain when swallowing, but this eased after a month or so. My thymoma has remained stable since then and I undergo regular six monthly scans and oncology reviews. I hope this is of benefit to others.

Comment from: Blue, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: May 23

I had shortness of breath, pain in my back and left shoulder and a fairly high fever. The thymoma was found in a chest x-ray. It was removed surgically, but the pathologist found a small breach in the tumor capsule, which is why I also got 22 doses of radiation.

Comment from: magpiemona, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 02

I did not feel well all weekend and felt short of breath. I had some shortness of breath and felt tired over the previous year after the diagnosis. The morning I went to the emergency room, I awoke, dressed and got ready for work, then left for work. I got about a 1/2 mile from my home when I felt extreme pain to my chest and was very short of breath. I turned around and when I arrived at the emergency room, I was rushed in, due to the symptoms. They ran 2 EKGs, which produced no irregularities, then did a chest x-ray. The x-ray showed a mass the size of a large orange directly behind my left chest wall. The emergency room doctor told me that it was one of two things: lymphoma or a thymoma. He told me that he thought it was the latter and that the treatment was removal. I was hospitalized for 4 days, went home for 3, then back into the hospital for the removal procedure and a 6 day hospital stay. They thought that they got it all but a microscopic part had been breached, so I had 27 treatments of radiation.

Comment from: bellaboo, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 30

I actually had a thymoma removed approximately 23 years ago. My symptoms were pain radiating from my jaw down my right arm. It also hurt to take a deep breath.

Comment from: nancy, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 25

I had no indications of thymoma, it was found while I had a heart scan. It was removed via an open heart operation, as the surgeon was unsure whether I would need heart surgery or not. Now I am having a brain scan due to my sleeping habits/acting out dreams/sleep talk/walk. I have no idea whether there is a link to the thymoma.

Comment from: kingsway, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: March 29

My chest was always aching and heart tests were clear. Then I had a clot in my leg and lungs and my thymoma was found from the scans.

Comment from: Sybil, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 08

I was diagnosed 9 months ago with thymoma, accidently found with a chest x-ray. I had sores in my throat and mouth. With months of doctors not knowing what it was, I had to be very pushy and demand test and demand to see specialist. Seriously, so many of my referrals got denied and if I could have just been seen by a few specialists early on it would have made a difference. I had surgery in October. They said they are sure they got it all and it was fully contained. I have been diagnosed with pemphigus, something that is caused from the thymoma. It is sores mainly in my mouth and throat but can go anyplace. I will always have it and will seek treatment for it. One word of advice. Be your own advocate, question everything. Get a medical advocate if your insurance will allow it.

Comment from: Mamabear, 0-2 Female (Caregiver) Published: November 24

My 10 month old son had a CT scan to evaluate a unilateral vocal cord paralysis. There was a mass found to the superior anterior mediastinum. The ENT thinks this may be a thymoma. We have to consult with a pediatric surgeon and a hematologist/oncologist. I am really nervous for my baby just not knowing what to expect or what the action plan for treatment will be.

Comment from: Barbie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 04

My thymoma symptoms were myasthenia gravis symptoms with chest pain and fatigue.

Comment from: tenring, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: February 19

I was unaware of any symptoms at the time of discovery. I was in the hospital for another issue when the thymoma was discovered during a CT scan.

Comment from: siskate, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: December 13

I had a very sore mouth. I was treated for a yeast infection but it did not help. I went to an ENT and he ordered a PET scan and a biopsy; no cancer in mouth or tongue. I also have had myasthenia gravis for 15 years.