Standard resection for patients with thymoma is resection of thymoma with total thymectomy (TTx) via median sternotomy. Hence, limited resection for thymoma means a lesser extent of resection of normal thymus compared with a standard procedure, i.e. resection of thymoma with partial thymectomy (PTx). In contrast, minimally invasive resection has been defined as resection of thymoma with TTx via a less-invasive approach. However, to date, few studies have precisely evaluated the differences in surgical and oncological outcomes among these three procedures. This report summarizes the differences among these three procedures with a review of studies (January 2000 to December 2020) focusing on the difference in surgical and oncological outcomes and presents current issues in the surgical management of thymoma. In this report, 16 studies were identified; 5 compared standard resection to limited resection, 9 compared standard resection to minimally invasive resection and 2 compared limited resection to minimally invasive resection. Most studies reported that the surgical and oncological outcomes of limited resection or minimally invasive resection were similar to those of standard resection in patients with early-stage thymoma. However, they did not include a sufficient follow-up period. Both limited resection and minimally invasive resection for early-stage thymoma might be reasonable treatment options. However, they are still promising modes of resection. Further studies with a long follow-up period are needed.
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