The literature describing multimodal treatment of thymomas consists almost exclusively of retrospective case series. We have used a systematic review to investigate the role of surgery in the management of thymomas. The use of surgery as the sole therapeutic maneuver in thymoma depends on the stage considered. Subtotal resection followed by adjuvant treatment may prolong survival, but studies are equivocal. Some data supports re-resection of recurrent thymoma in the belief that survival will be prolonged. Approaches to thymectomy other than sternotomy in early stage thymoma are technically sound, but long-term outcome data are lacking.