Evolution of thymic malignancy management in Japan

Meinoshin Okumura, Yasushi Shintani, Soichiro Funaki


Although surgery for the thymus began as early as 1940 in Japan, resection of a thymic epithelial tumor continued to be challenging for clinical practitioners until the 1970’s. Thereafter, introduction of the Masaoka clinicopathological staging system, development of extended thymectomy procedure, advancements in understanding of the pathological and biological characteristics of these tumors, and establishment of the Japanese Association for Study of the Thymus (JART) led to significant progress in clinical practice for treating affected patients. Presently, surgical resection procedures for thymic epithelia tumors are safely performed for more than 2,000 patients each year in Japan, approximately 40% of which are achieved using video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). JART and Japanese clinicians are currently involved in global collaboration research activities with the International Thymic Malignancy Interest Group (ITMIG) and International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).