Send to

Choose Destination
J Clin Oncol. 1994 Jul;12(7):1484-90.

Prognostic factors and outcome of incompletely resected invasive thymoma following radiation therapy.

Author information

Department of Radiology, University Hospital, Zürich, Switzerland.



Stage III and stage IV thymomas with significant macroscopic infiltration to the neighboring structures are rarely completely resectable. It therefore remains unclear to what extent tumors must be surgically debulked to improve prognosis.


We reviewed the cases of 31 patients with incompletely resected invasive thymoma and residual macroscopic disease who were referred to postoperative irradiation. Survival and local tumor control were analyzed. All patients were treated between 1958 and 1990 with megavoltage irradiation at doses ranging from 42 to 66 Gy. The shortest follow-up time for living patients was more than 5 years.


The overall median 5-year survival rate was 45%. Eighteen stage III patients had a 5-year survival rate of 61% and a 10-year survival rate of 57%. Thirteen patients had stage IV disease and 5- and 10-year survival rates of 23% and 8%, respectively. Univariate and multivariate analyses confirmed a worse prognosis for stage IV disease. Epithelial or spindle-cell thymoma was associated with stage IV disease. Twenty-two percent of patients with stage III disease had epithelial or spindle-cell thymoma, versus 69% of patients with stage IV disease (P = .02 for univariate and P = .05 for multivariate analysis). Initial tumor diameter greater than 10 cm correlated with poor prognosis in the univariate analysis (P = .05). However, more importantly, debulking of tumor did not significantly improve outcome when compared with patients who received biopsy only. The median survival rate of patients with stage IVa disease did not differ from that of those with stage IVb disease. Mediastinal control was achieved in 23 patients (74%). Stage IV disease did not correlate with an increase in local treatment failure after irradiation, although epithelial or spindle-cell thymoma predisposed for local treatment failure (46% v 11%; P = .04 in univariate and P = .055 in multivariate analysis).


Tumor debulking leaving macroscopic residual thymoma, as opposed to biopsy alone, does not improve prognosis when followed by radiation. Radiation therapy for local tumor control is most effective in nonepithelial-predominant thymomas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center