Cisplatin and irinotecan combination chemotherapy for advanced thymic carcinoma: evaluation of efficacy and toxicity

Lung Cancer. 2011 Dec;74(3):492-6. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2011.05.013. Epub 2011 Jun 12.


Background: Thymic carcinoma is a rare, malignant mediastinal tumor that is definitively distinguished from thymoma by its wide extensiveness and poor prognosis. At present, cisplatin-based triplet or quartet chemotherapy with the second generation antitumor agents, referred to as Einhorn's protocol for germ cell tumors, is used as first-line chemotherapy for advanced thymic carcinoma, though an optimal chemotherapeutic regimen has not yet been established. In this retrospective study, the effectiveness and toxicity of cisplatin and irinotecan combination chemotherapy were evaluated over a nine-year period.

Patients and methods: Patients with advanced thymic carcinoma who were treated with cisplatin and irinotecan combination chemotherapy between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2010, were retrospectively identified from our database and medical records. The endpoints in this study were disease control, response rate, progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS). Significant hematological and non-hematological toxicities were also assessed.

Results: Among identified nine patients, disease control was achieved in 8 patients (88.9%), and a clinical response was achieved in 5 (55.6%). The median PFS was 7.9 months, and the median OS was 33.8 months. One- and two-year OS were 77.7% and 55.6%, respectively. Grade 3/4 hematological toxicities were observed in 2 patients (22.2%), and Grade 3/4 non-hematological toxicities were seen in 2 patients (22.2%). No febrile neutropenia or toxic death was recorded.

Conclusion: Cisplatin and irinotecan combination chemotherapy appears to be acceptable for advanced thymic carcinoma as first-line chemotherapy with respect to efficacy, toxicity, and usage in the clinical setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Camptothecin / administration & dosage
  • Camptothecin / adverse effects
  • Camptothecin / analogs & derivatives
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma / mortality
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / physiopathology
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Cisplatin / adverse effects
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Progression
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Irinotecan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thymus Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Thymus Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Thymus Neoplasms / mortality
  • Thymus Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thymus Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Irinotecan
  • Cisplatin
  • Camptothecin