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J Clin Neurol. 2012 Sep;8(3):161-9. doi: 10.3988/jcn.2012.8.3.161. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Incidence of thymoma in myasthenia gravis: a systematic review.

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Institute of Neurology, First Affiliated Hospital, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, Guangxi, People's Republic of China.



Myasthenia gravis (MG) is usually comorbid with thymoma. More accurate estimates of the incidence thymoma in MG will help inform patients and their physicians, facilitate health policy discussions, provide etiologic clues, and optimize the management of MG.


We conducted a systematic review search of relevant English-language studies published between 1960 and 2012 using MEDLINE and Embase. We identified additional studies by reviewing the bibliographies of the retrieved articles and hand searched the main neurology journals. Only incidence studies and case series of unselected MG patients in which information about thymoma were included.


Out of 2206 potentially relevant studies, 49 met the inclusion criteria. Although there was a considerable degree of heterogeneity, the pooled estimate of the incidence of thymoma in MG was 21% (95% confidence interval, 20-22%). The pooled incidence was significantly higher for surgery-based studies than for population- and hospital-based studies. A large proportion of the reported thymomas were noninvasive. Furthermore, thymoma appears to occur significantly more frequently among male MG patients and those older than 40 years at the onset of MG.


Thymoma is common in MG patients, but appears to be found more often in male MG patients and those older than 40 years at the onset of MG. Further research is needed to expand our understanding of these association conditions.


incidence; myasthenia; systematic review; thymoma

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