Tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Imaging tests use x-rays, magnetic fields, or radioactive substances to create pictures of the inside of your body. Imaging tests may be done for a number of reasons, including to help find a suspicious area that might be cancerous, to learn how far cancer may have spread, and to help determine if treatment has been effective.
A chest x-ray may be the first imaging test a doctor orders if he or she suspects a problem in the middle of the chest. Some thymomas are small or are in certain places that may not show up on a chest x-ray.
Computed tomography (CT) Scan
CT scanner takes many detailed cross-sectional images pictures. A computer then combines these into images of slices of body that is being studied
CT scans can have several uses:
- CT scans of the chest can spot very small tumors and help determine the exact location and extent of the tumors.
- CT scans can be helpful in staging a cancer
- CT scans can also be used to guide a biopsy needle precisely into a suspected tumor or metastasis,CT-guided needle biopsy.
- During or after treatment, CT scans may be used to see whether tumors are shrinking or have recurred (come back) in other parts of the body.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Scan
- MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays.
- MRI of the chest may be done to look more closely at thymus tumors.
- MRI images are also particularly useful in looking for cancer that may have spread to the brain or spinal cord.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
- PET scan can help give the doctor a better idea of whether an abnormal area seen on another imaging test is a tumor or not.
- In proven cancer, this is done to see if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
- Blood tests can’t be used to diagnose thymomas directly.
- Blood tests may be done to look for certain antibodies (myasthenia gravis/ other autoimmune disorders).
- Few tests can differentiate it from germ cell tumor or part of the thyroid gland.
Types Of Biopsy Procedures
- Biopsy is rarely done because doctors can usually tell that the tumor is very likely a thymoma based on how it looks on imaging tests.
- We often remove the entire tumor rather than do a biopsy. Most often, a needle biopsy is done.
- A biopsy may also be done to confirm the diagnosis if the tumor can’t be removed completely with surgery. This can allow the cancer to be treated with things other than surgery like chemotherapy.