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Am J Clin Oncol. 2003 Jun;26(3):300-6.

Translocation (11;15;19): a highly specific chromosome rearrangement associated with poorly differentiated thymic carcinoma in young patients.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA


Thymic carcinoma is a rare epithelial neoplasm of the thymus. The presence of a specific chromosomal abnormality may augment diagnosis and therapeutic stratification. We report a 15-year-old boy diagnosed with thymic carcinoma who presented with a large anterior mediastinal mass, pleural effusion, and bone metastasis. The pleural fluid, cytology, bony lesions, and bone marrow were examined and chromosomal studies were performed. Histologic and immunohistochemical studies confirmed a poorly differentiated squamous cell type of thymic carcinoma. The karyotype of the pleural fluid at the time of diagnosis revealed a complex three-way translocation t(11;15;19)(p15;q12;p13.3). The constitutional karyotype was 46,XY. Five months after diagnosis, a bone marrow aspirate demonstrated tetraploidy with all translocation chromosomes in duplicate, as well as an unbalanced rearrangement involving chromosome 1: 92,XXYY,t(11;15;19)(p15;q12;p13.3)x2[15]/92,XXYY,idem,add(1)(qter)[5]. Despite aggressive multiagent chemotherapy, the patient's condition progressed with bone marrow disease and he died 6 months after diagnosis. Several case reports of a similar chromosomal abnormality have been reported for thymic carcinoma in young patients with poor outcome. This karyotypic abnormality appears to mark a cohort of patients with thymic carcinoma who have a poor prognosis despite aggressive chemotherapy.

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