The thymus is an organ that is part of the lymphatic system, in which T lymphocytes grow and multiply. The thymus is in the chest behind the breastbone.
It’s a rare site for a Neuroendocrine Neoplasm (NEN). Grouped within Thoracic NENs. Can be poorly differentiated (Neuroendocrine Carcinoma) or well differentiated (Neuroendocrine Tumour).
Tumours of the thymus are uncommon and are generally regarded as being indolent. Whilst this is often true of thymomas; thymic adenocarcinoma and thymic neuroendocrine cancer can be aggressive and have a poor prognosis. Understanding the biology of these tumours is important for prognosis and management. The pathological features of these tumours are examined in detail. The treatment options available including curative surgery, debulking surgery, chemotherapy, somatostatin analogues and peptide receptor radionuclide therapy are discussed. The optimal chemotherapy regimens are still unclear, although promising results have been obtained with platinum-based chemotherapy. The role for adjuvant therapy in both thymic carcinoma and thymoma is unclear except, in patients with stage I thymomas. There is a high expression of somatostatin receptors in thymic tumours and anti-tumour benefit has been reported in patients treated with somatostatin analogues. A new development is the role of peptide receptor radionuclide therapy. This has become an established therapy in management of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours and its use has been recently described in case reports in both thymoma and thymic carcinoma.