Chest hospital leads way in treatment of mediastinal diseases

Shanghai Chest Hospital has set up the world's largest database for mediastinal diseases, and also conducted the largest number of thymic tumor surgeries in the world.

Thymic tumors are the commonest type among all mediastinal tumors.

Though it is an uncommon disease, its incidence in China is double that of the US.

The detection of thymic tumors is becoming more widespread, due to the prevalence of chest CT scanning in recent years.

"Like lung nodules, there are more people being detected with mediastinal nodules thanks to CT scanning," said Dr Fang Wentao, director of the hospital's thoracic surgery department.

"But the majority are just benign problems, which only need long-term observation. Such patients are mainly discovered during health check-ups and we give instruction based on patient benefit, instead of suggesting surgery randomly."

The hospital conducts more than 600 thymic tumor surgeries each year, the most number of such operations worldwide.

To regulate diagnosis and treatment, Fang's team has issued the first clinical guideline based on Chinese patients' conditions, relapse forecasts and long-term management.

The guideline will give direction to grassroots doctors and also discuss the high-tech involvement for thymic tumor, such as artificial intelligence-assisted diagnosis, minimally invasive surgery, immunotherapy and clinical research to guide the medical development.

To help more patients, Shanghai Chest Hospital is the first to set up a multidisciplinary outpatient and ward service for patients with mediastinal disease.

"There are at least five medical experts from different majors to offer the best solution and guidance to patients, who needn't transfer between departments for treatment," said Dr Mao Teng, director of the mediastinal disease department.

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