Indexed on: 22 Apr '09Published on: 22 Apr '09Published in: Current Treatment Options in Oncology
Although thymic epithelial tumors are rare, they are relatively common among neoplasms of the anterior superior mediastinum. They usually exhibit indolent behavior, but do have the capacity to invade surrounding structures and metastasize to distant sites. Thymic carcinomas are rare, but are highly aggressive tumors that are associated with a poor prognosis. The mainstay of therapy is complete surgical resection. Locally advanced thymoma and thymic carcinoma require a multimodality treatment approach with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy to decrease the chances of recurrence and improve survival. The risk of disease recurrence lasts for a number of years after completion of primary therapy. A majority of cases of recurrent disease present as pleural recurrences. Once again, surgical resection of recurrent disease represents the cornerstone of successful therapy and is critical to long-term survival. In recent years, a better understanding of the biologic basis of thymic epithelial tumors has led to the emergence of targeted therapy directed against this malignancy.