Purpose: To evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of prophylactic entire hemithorax irradiation (EH) in addition to mediastinal irradiation (MRT) following a complete resection in Stage II-III invasive thymoma.
Methods and materials: Forty-three patients with invasive thymoma treated with surgery and radiation therapy between 1978 and 1993 were analyzed retrospectively. All 43 patients underwent a complete surgical resection and were judged to have Masaoka's Stage II-III invasive thymoma. Of these, 23 patients received EH and MRT (EH-MRT) and the remaining 20 received MRT. Of the 23 patients with EH-MRT, 11 were Stage II and 12 Stage III. Of the 20 with MRT, 11 were Stage II and 9 Stage III. In most cases, EH was 15 Gy per 15 fractions over 3 weeks (without lung compensation calculation). In both the EH-MRT and MRT group, the total radiation doses to the mediastinum were similar with a median of 40 Gy. The median follow-up time after surgery was 63 months and no patients were lost to follow-up.
Results: Only one of the 23 patients with EH-MRT relapsed. On the other hand, eight of the 20 with MRT relapsed, six of whom died of disease. The pleura was the most common site of failure. At 5 years, the relapse-free rate was 100% for those receiving EH-MRT and 66% for those with MRT (p = 0.03); the overall survival rate was 96% for those with EH-MRT, and 74% for those with MRT (p: not significant). The only significant treatment-related complication was radiation pneumonitis requiring treatment, in one patient who received MRT and three who received EH-MRT, including one death of a 72-year-old man and one 68-year-old woman with severe lung fibrosis.
Conclusion: Except for elderly patients, EH-MRT following a macroscopically complete resection appears to be safe and feasible, and can reduce intrathoracic relapses.