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Cancer Health Center

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Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Recurrent Thymoma and Thymic Carcinoma


In another study, the ADOC regimen (doxorubicin, cisplatin, vincristine, cyclophosphamide) produced a 92% response rate (34 of 37 patients), including complete responses in 43% of patients.[9]

One study of combined chemotherapy with cisplatin and etoposide produced responses in 9 of 16 patients treated, with a median response duration of 3.4 years and a median survival of 4.3 years.[10]

Nine of 28 patients with invasive thymoma or thymic carcinoma who received four cycles of etoposide, ifosfamide, and cisplatin (VIP) at 3-week intervals had partial responses.[10] The median duration of response was 11.9 months (range, <1-26 months), and the median overall survival (OS) rate was 31.6 months. The 1-year and 2-year survival rates were 89% and 70%, respectively.[10][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiv] Nine of 34 patients treated with VIP had partial responses (32%; 95% confidence interval, 16%-52%). The median follow-up was 43 months (range, 12.8-52.3 months), the median duration of response was 11.9 months (range, <1-26 months), and the median OS rate was 31.6 months. Based on Kaplan-Meier estimates, the 1-year and 2-year survival rates were 89% and 70%, respectively. These results appear to be inferior to other combinations.

Standard treatment options:

  1. Repeat surgical resection, particularly for local recurrences and, in some cases, pleural and pericardial implants. Postoperative radiation therapy has been used for patients with incomplete resections and has been employed in selected patients following complete resection of recurrent thymoma.[1]
  2. Radiation therapy (when possible, based on previous treatment).
  3. Corticosteroids in unresectable tumors that have not responded to radiation therapy.
  4. Chemotherapy.

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

Areas of active clinical evaluation for patients with recurrent thymoma or thymic carcinoma include:

  • New drug regimens.
  • Variation of drug doses in current regimens.
  • New radiation therapy schedules.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent thymoma and thymic carcinoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Urgesi A, Monetti U, Rossi G, et al.: Aggressive treatment of intrathoracic recurrences of thymoma. Radiother Oncol 24 (4): 221-5, 1992.
  2. Okumura M, Shiono H, Inoue M, et al.: Outcome of surgical treatment for recurrent thymic epithelial tumors with reference to world health organization histologic classification system. J Surg Oncol 95 (1): 40-4, 2007.
  3. Ruffini E, Mancuso M, Oliaro A, et al.: Recurrence of thymoma: analysis of clinicopathologic features, treatment, and outcome. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 113 (1): 55-63, 1997.
  4. Bonomi PD, Finkelstein D, Aisner S, et al.: EST 2582 phase II trial of cisplatin in metastatic or recurrent thymoma. Am J Clin Oncol 16 (4): 342-5, 1993.
  5. Highley MS, Underhill CR, Parnis FX, et al.: Treatment of invasive thymoma with single-agent ifosfamide. J Clin Oncol 17 (9): 2737-44, 1999.
  6. Palmieri G, Montella L, Martignetti A, et al.: Somatostatin analogs and prednisone in advanced refractory thymic tumors. Cancer 94 (5): 1414-20, 2002.
  7. Loehrer PJ Sr, Wang W, Johnson DH, et al.: Octreotide alone or with prednisone in patients with advanced thymoma and thymic carcinoma: an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group phase II trial. J Clin Oncol 22 (2): 293-9, 2004.
  8. Harper PG, Highly M, Rankin E, et al.: Ifosfamide monotherapy demonstrates high activity in malignant thymoma. [Abstract] Proceedings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 10: A-1049, 300, 1991.
  9. Fornasiero A, Daniele O, Ghiotto C, et al.: Chemotherapy for invasive thymoma. A 13-year experience. Cancer 68 (1): 30-3, 1991.
  10. Giaccone G, Ardizzoni A, Kirkpatrick A, et al.: Cisplatin and etoposide combination chemotherapy for locally advanced or metastatic thymoma. A phase II study of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Lung Cancer Cooperative Group. J Clin Oncol 14 (3): 814-20, 1996.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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