Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be 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, and no 2 people are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with either of these tumors and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with thymoma and thymic carcinoma?

Most tumors that begin in the thymus are thymoma, but overall, thymoma is uncommon. For every 1 million people in the United States, about 1.5 people will be diagnosed with thymoma. This means about 400 people per year are diagnosed with this disease. However, the exact number is not known. Thymic carcinoma accounts for 20% of all tumors in the thymus.

What is the survival rate for thymoma and thymic carcinoma cancer?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from thymoma or thymic carcinoma. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with thymoma or thymic carcinoma are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without these cancers.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with thymoma or thymic carcinoma are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate for thymus cancer is 72%.

The survival rates for thymus cancer vary based on several factors. These include the stage and classification of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.

If the thymic cancer is located only in the thymus, the 5-year relative survival rate is 94%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is 80%. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 38%.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for thymoma and thymic carcinoma cancer every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how thymoma and thymic carcinoma cancer are diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the websites of the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. (All sources accessed March 2023.)

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.