Revisiting the Evidence for Routine Transcervical Thymectomy for the Prevention of Thymic Carcinoid Tumours in MEN-1 Patients


Background: Malignant thymic carcinoids are uncommon tumours among patients with multiple-endocrine-neoplasia type-1 (MEN-1). Current guidelines advise performance of a preventative, routine transcervical thymectomy (TCT) during parathyroidectomy, although data on the yield is scarce. In this review we aimed to revisit available literature to investigate and summarize the efficacy of routine TCT for the prevention of thymic carcinoid tumours among MEN-1 patients after searching four databases (PubMed, Embase, Medline and Cochrane Library). Summary Seven eligible studies were identified: retrospective observational studies: 3 and case reports describing one or more patients: 4. A total of 122 patients were included, 56 males (45.9%) and a pooled mean age of 40 years (±10). All underwent a routine TCT as part of parathyroidectomy, no details on the extent of TCT were available. Overall, only one (0.9%) incidental carcinoid was found. However, although all other patients underwent prophylactic TCT at time of parathyroidectomy, an additional nine (7.4%) developed a thymic carcinoid during follow-up, after a median time of 36 months [range: 8-226]. Key messages There is currently not enough evidence to support the efficacy of a routine TCT to prevent the development of thymic carcinoid among MEN-1 patients. As this is a rare, but potentially highly aggressive tumour, attention should be shifted towards improving follow-up programs and develop specific imaging-screening protocols. This enables early detection of thymic carcinoids in a timely manner and improves outcomes, even after performance of a routine TCT.

The Author(s). Published by S. Karger AG, Basel

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