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J Med Invest. 2008 Feb;55(1-2):17-28.

Optimal therapy for thymoma.

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Department of Adult and Gerontological Nursing, School of Health Sciences, The University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan.


Thymoma is the most common tumor of the anterior mediastinum. This tumor is associated with unique paraneoplastic syndromes (myasthenia gravis, pure red cell aplasia, hypogammaglobulinemia, and other autoimmune diseases). The rarity of this tumor has somewhat obscured the optimal treatment. Although the histologic classification of thymoma has remained a subject of controversy for many years, the WHO classification system, published in 1999, appeared to be an advance in our understanding of thymoma. The optimal treatment for thymoma depends on its clinical stage. Surgery remains the mainstay of treatment for thymic epithelial tumors. Thymomas also have a high response rate to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Only surgical resection is performed for patients with stage I (non-invasive) thymoma. The value of postoperative radiotherapy in completely resected stage II or III tumors is questionable. Multimodality therapy involving surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy appears to increase the rate of complete resection and survival in advanced (stage III and IV) thymomas.

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