Extended resections for thymic malignancies

J Thorac Oncol. 2010 Oct;5(10 Suppl 4):S344-7. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e3181f20eb3.


Almost all series reporting on the results of resection in thymic tumors indicate that the performance of a complete resection is probably the most important prognostic factor. This issue is not a factor in Masaoka stage I and II tumors that are almost always easily completely resected and have an excellent prognosis. Masaoka stage III tumors that invade the pericardium, lungs, or great vessels have relatively higher incomplete resection rates, significantly higher recurrence rates, and thus a worse prognosis. There are several small reports on the efficacy of resection of the great veins when involved by a thymic malignancy with low morbidity and meaningful long-term survival. Superior vena cava reconstruction is commonly performed by a polytetrafluroethylene, venous, or pericardial graft. These cases can usually be identified preoperatively and, thus, considered for induction therapy. Because these types of cases are almost always of marginal respectability in terms of obtaining a true en bloc resection, there is an increasing enthusiasm for offering induction therapy in an effort to enhance resectability. Preliminary results suggest increased R0 resection rates and improved survival with induction therapy for locally advanced tumors. The optimal induction treatment is unknown. The ultimate extended surgery for advanced thymic tumors is an extrapleural pneumonectomy performed for extensive pleural disease (Masaoka stage IVA). These rarely performed operations are done for IVA disease found at initial presentation and for recurrent disease as a salvage procedure. Again these advanced patients are probably best managed by induction chemotherapy followed by resection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Thymoma / drug therapy
  • Thymoma / surgery*
  • Thymus Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Thymus Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome