Thymic carcinoma


Last author update: 1 December 2012
Last staff update: 17 June 2021

Copyright: 2003-2023,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Sarcomatoid thymic carcinoma

Hanni Gulwani, M.B.B.S.
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Cite this page: Gulwani H. Sarcomatoid. website. Accessed January 29th, 2023.
Definition / general
  • Very rare; usually presents as rapidly growing, anterior mediastinal mass
  • Must exclude metastases before making this diagnosis
  • May arise from malignant transformation of preexisting spindle cell thymoma (Am J Surg Pathol 1999;23:691)
  • Aggressive - recurrence, metastasis and death are common
  • Also called spindle cell thymic carcinoma
Case reports
Gross description
  • Large (mean 15 cm), well circumscribed, locally infiltrative
  • Firm cut surface, focal hemorrhage, necrosis, cystic changes
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Irregular fascicles of fusiform and pleomorphic cells with amphophilic or eosinophilic cytoplasm, hyperchromatic nuclei, prominent nucleoli (at least focally), brisk mitotic activity, often atypical mitotic figures
  • May have epithelioid foci
  • Usually transitional areas with spindle cell thymoma
  • May also have lymphoepithelioma-like or anaplastic areas
  • Rarely rhabdomyogenic foci with cross striations
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Atypical population
of spindle cells
with frequent
mitotic figures

Positive stains
Negative stains
Electron microscopy description
  • Focal junctional complexes between spindle cells, tonofibrils
Differential diagnosis
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