• What are the side effects of having the thymus gland removed?

    Asked by bigjan on Thursday, March 28, 2013

    What are the side effects of having the thymus gland removed?

    What does it actually do? Will I be alright without it?

    3 Answers from the Community

    • nancyjac's Avatar

      The thymus gland is an organ in the upper chest cavity that processes lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that fights infections in the body. This organ is part of both the lymphatic system, which makes up a major part of the immune system, and the endocrine system, which includes all glands that produce hormones. The thymus is most important in children and young adults, when it programs lymphocytes to attack antigens, like viruses. People who do not have this gland, or in whom it does not function correctly, usually have compromised immune systems and difficulty fighting disease.

      over 3 years ago
    • Becky@UMich's Avatar
      Becky@UMich RN, BS, OCN, Cancer AnswerLine Nurse

      Hi bigjan, the thymus gland is in the front of the chest, behind the breast bone. It is made up of several lobes, and can extend up into the neck with one or more ‘finger-like’ projections. The thymus gland does play a role in the immune system in our early years by changing certain types of white blood cells into disease fighting ‘T-Cells”, but because it’s function declines as we age, an adult does not need a thymus. Having a thymectomy does not put a person at risk for developing autoimmune disease.
      Removal of the thymus (called a thymectomy) is done for several reasons; to remove a tumor (either malignant or benign) or as a treatment for some people that have a disease called myasthenia gravis.

      I'm curious - I notice you have a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Has your doctor told you that your thymus gland is also involved?
      Becky RN OCN

      over 3 years ago
    • robertahed's Avatar

      Are there any side effects of having the Thymus gland removed if you are 71?

      12 months ago

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