Treatment and prognosis of thymic carcinoma

A retrospective analysis of 40 cases




Thymic carcinomas are rare neoplasms, and information regarding the results of treatment and possible prognostic factors in patients with these tumors is limited.


The records of 40 patients with histologically confirmed thymic carcinoma who were treated between 1984 and 1998 were reviewed. Twenty-seven patients were treated with surgical resection followed by radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy, and the remaining 13 patients were treated with radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy. The median follow-up time for the 13 surviving patients was 87 months (range, 44–193 months).


The 5-year and 10-year actuarial overall survival rates in all patients were 38% and 28%, respectively. On univariate analysis, complete resection, Karnofsky performance status (KPS), histology, and Masaoka stage at the time of diagnosis were found to have a significant impact on overall survival, whereas on multivariate analysis, complete resection, KPS, and histology were found to be significant prognostic factors. With regard to the degree of resection, 12 of 16 patients (75%) treated with complete resection were alive and free of disease at the time of last follow-up whereas 1 of 24 patients (4%) treated with incomplete resection or biopsy still was alive. Among 12 surviving patients treated with complete resection, 8 with resectable tumors at the time of presentation all had low-grade histology (squamous cell carcinoma) and were treated successfully with complete resection and postoperative radiotherapy with or without adjuvant chemotherapy. The remaining four patients with unresectable tumors at the time of presentation were treated successfully with neoadjuvant chemotherapy, complete resection, and postoperative radiotherapy.


The results of the current study indicate that multimodal treatment, especially complete resection and postoperative radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy, is a curative therapy for thymic carcinomas. Cancer 2002;94:3115–9. © 2002 American Cancer Society.

DOI 10.1002/cncr.10588