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Case Rep Oncol. 2011 Mar 22;4(1):155-61. doi: 10.1159/000327091.

Acute respiratory distress due to thymoma in a patient treated with TK inhibitor: a case report and review of the current treatment options.

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  • 1Pulmonary Department, 'G. Papanikolaou' Hospital, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.


Thymic malignancies are rare intrathoracic tumors that may be aggressive and difficult to treat in advanced stage. Surgery is the cornerstone of the management of thymomas: it is significant for the definite histopathological diagnosis and staging, and in most cases, it constitutes the first step of the treatment strategy. For patients with primary unresectable thymomas, the multimodal treatment schedule nowadays includes neoadjuvant chemotherapy, extensive surgery, adjuvant radiotherapy, and in some cases, adjuvant chemotherapy. A patient with a history of stage III COPD and an undiagnosed thoracic mass was admitted to the intensive care unit with acute respiratory distress. A radiologic evaluation by CT scan revealed a mass of 13 cm in diameter at the mediastinum. Fine needle aspiration was performed and revealed a thymoma. Due to poor performance status, the patient was not able to undergo surgery. He refused to be treated with neither chemotherapy nor radiotherapy, but due to EGFR overexpression, treatment with TK inhibitor was suggested. Fine needle aspiration biopsy is commonly used to identify metastasis to the mediastinum. However, it is less often employed as a primary diagnostic tool for tumors, particularly thymic neoplasms. The use of targeted therapies for the treatment of thymic malignancies has been described in the literature. Over the past years, significant efforts have been made to dissect the molecular pathways involved in the carcinogenesis of these tumors. Insights have been obtained following anecdotal clinical responses to targeted therapies, and large-scale genomic analyses have been conducted.


Fine needle aspiration; TK inhibitor; Targeted therapy; Thymic carcinoma; Thymoma

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