OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to clarify the prevalence, clinical features and survival of patients with thymoma and non-myasthenia gravis autoimmune disease (NMAD) using a nationwide cohort. METHODS: The Japanese Association for Research on the Thymus nationwide database, which includes data from 32 institutions, was examined to clarify the prevalence and characteristics of NMAD associated with thymomas and elucidate the prognostic impact of NMAD for thymoma patients. RESULTS: Among the 2423 patients with thymomas who were surgically treated between 1991 and 2010, 114 (4.7%) were identified with NMAD. The most frequently observed NMAD was pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) in 44 (1.8%), followed by hypogammaglobulinaemia (0.5%) and rheumatic arthritis (0.5%). Twenty-eight percent of patients with NMAD had concomitant myasthenia gravis. The presence of NMAD was not an independent prognostic factor for overall survival (OS) irrespective of the type of NMAD [PRCA+: hazard ratio (HR) 1.99, 95% confidence interval 0.74-4.47; PRCA- NMAD: HR 1.28, 0.30-3.56]; however, there were more cases with advanced age and disease of the thymoma amongst PRCA+ patients and these showed a worse OS than patients with PRCA- NMAD (P < 0.001), who had an OS similar to those without NMAD (P = 0.489). The 10-year OS rates in PRCA+, PRCA- NMAD and NMAD- groups were 45.5%, 97.4% and 89.5%, respectively. The main causes of death in PRCA+ patients were the progression of thymoma and other diseases including pneumonia. CONCLUSIONS: Although the presence of NMAD itself did not significantly affect survival after surgery for thymoma, the type of NMAD was associated with different clinical features and prognosis. The NMAD+ thymomas should be separately categorized according to the presence or absence of PRCA.
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