Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2020

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with thymoma and thymic carcinoma each year. You will also read general information on surviving these diseases. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

Most tumors that begin in the thymus are thymoma, but overall, thymoma is uncommon. Less than 1 person out of 1.5 million people develops thymoma. This means about 400 people per year develop thymoma. However, the exact number is not known and may be increasing because computed tomography (CT) scans may be more effective at finding the tumors (see Diagnosis). Thymic carcinoma accounts for 20% of all tumors in the thymus.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5-years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for people with thymus cancer is 71%. However, survival rates are different depending on several factors, including the stage and classification of thymoma (see Stages).

If the cancer is located only in the thymus, the 5-year survival rate is 92%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 77%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 43%. 

It is important to remember that statistics for people with thymoma and thymic carcinoma are an estimate. The estimate comes from data based on the number of people with these cancers in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute (January 2020). 

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors. It explains what factors may increase the chance of developing thymoma or thymic carcinoma. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.