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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2005 Nov;130(5):1413-21. Epub 2005 Oct 13.

Predictors of recurrence in thymic tumors: importance of invasion, World Health Organization histology, and size.

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  • 1Division of General Thoracic Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass 02114, USA.



This study sought to define predictors of recurrence after resection of thymic tumors.


A single-institution retrospective study was performed of 179 patients who underwent resection of a thymic tumor from 1972 through 2003.


Resection was complete in 90% (161/179) of patients. After a median follow-up of 115 months, the recurrence rate was 11% (20/179), the tumor-related death rate was 7.8% (14/179), and the overall death rate was 36.3% (65/179). Tumor recurrence correlated with advanced stage and histology (P < .0001). The difference in recurrence between Masaoka stage I (0) and II (1.7% [1/59]) was insignificant. Recurrence rates correlated with World Health Organization tumor type: A and AB, 0%; B1 and B2, 8% (4/51); B3, 27% (14/51); and C, 50% (2/4; P < .0001). Tumor size separation into quintiles demonstrated a step-up of recurrence at 8 cm (<8 cm, 1.8% [2/113]; > or =8 cm, 28% [18/64]; P < .003). Multivariate Cox modeling demonstrated that Masaoka stage (odds ratio, 5.70; P < .001), World Health Organization histology (odds ratio, 5.77; P = .003), and size (odds ratio, 1.16; P = .001) were independent predictors of recurrence.


The Masaoka staging system could be collapsed to 3 degrees of invasion by combining stages I and II. The World Health Organization histologic type can be simplified for clinical use into A (A, AB), early B (B1, B2), advanced B (B3), and C tumors. Size of 8 cm or larger is an independent risk factor, even when patients with Masaoka stage III tumors are considered alone, and might identify candidates for preoperative therapy.

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