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J Thorac Oncol. 2006 May;1(4):308-13.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy for stage III and IVA thymomas: a single-institution experience with a long follow-up.

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Division of Thoracic Surgery, Cardiac and Thoracic Departmen, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.



Since 1989 we have enrolled patients with clinical-radiological stage III-IVA thymomas, independent of the surgeon's judgment of resectability, into a prospective study of neoadjuvant chemotherapy-surgery and postoperative radiotherapy. In this article, we review our long-term experience of neoadjuvant chemotherapy of advanced stage (III-IVA) thymomas.


From 1989 to 2004, 30 patients with Masaoka stage III and IVA thymomas underwent neoadjuvant chemotherapy, surgery, and postoperative radiotherapy. The neoadjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy consisted of three courses of cisplatin, epidoxorubicin, and etoposide every 3 weeks. Adjuvant radiotherapy consisted of 45 Gy for complete resections or 60 Gy for incomplete resections.


The preoperative diagnosis of invasive thymomas was obtained for 16 patients: five by mediastinotomy, seven by video-assisted thoracic surgery, and four by fine needle aspiration. For 14 patients, no histological diagnosis was available, but a thymus-related syndrome was present in all.Twenty-seven patients are still alive (25 disease-free) and three have died (one disease-free). The 10-year survival rates were 85.7% and 76.1% for stage III and IVA thymomas, respectively (difference not significant). Only the World Health Organization pathological diagnosis significantly affected the survival, with type B3 having a worse prognosis than type AB, B1, and B2 thymomas (p = 0.02).


The multimodality treatment of stage III and IVA thymomas by means of neoadjuvant chemotherapy provides good long-term outcomes in both stages of the disease.

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