The role of chemotherapy in advanced thymoma

J Thorac Oncol. 2010 Oct;5(10 Suppl 4):S357-60. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e3181f21129.


Background: Thymoma and thymic carcinomas are rare malignancies. Most thymomas and about one-third of thymic carcinomas can be cured with local therapy. The remainder of will be candidates for systemic therapy. Numerous retrospective trials confirm objective responses to a variety of single-agent and combination chemotherapeutic regimens.

Methods: No prospective randomized comparison of regimens has been performed because of the rarity of the disease. This paper reviewed the literature of chemotherapy in advanced thymic malignancies.

Results: Existing data suggest that anthracycline plus cisplatin regimens seem to demonstrate higher response rates and perhaps longer median survival times compared with nonanthracycline-containing regimens.

Discussion: Thymic malignancies are sensitive to a broad spectrum of systemic agents. Thymic carcinoma has a distinct clinical presentation and worse therapeutic outcomes than thymoma. Despite reproducible high response rates in thymoma, durable complete remissions are rare. Thus, novel new therapeutic targets need to be identified and appropriate agents developed to have further impact on this disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Thymoma / drug therapy*
  • Thymus Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents