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Hum Pathol. 1994 Sep;25(9):893-9.

The clinicopathological correlation of epithelial subtyping in thymoma: a study of 112 consecutive cases.

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Department of Pathology, National Yang Ming Medical College, Taiwan.


The clinicopathological features of 112 thymomas collected from the surgical pathological files of Taipei Veterans General Hospital from 1961 to 1991 were investigated to determinate the clinical efficacy of epithelial subtyping. All thymomas were categorized based on the Müller-Hermelink system into three subtypes: cortical thymoma, mixed thymoma, and medullary thymoma. The former was further subclassified into organoid thymoma, conventional cortical thymoma, and well differentiated thymic carcinoma (WDTC) according to the systems of Pescarmona and Kirchner. The association of each subtype with sex, age at diagnosis, clinical stage, presence of myasthenia gravis, and length of survival was studied. As classified by the Müller-Hermelink system, the cortical thymomas as a whole tended to occur in younger patients and were more frequently associated with myasthenia gravis than the medullary thymomas. The cortical thymomas also showed a propensity to be invasive in nature, whereas the medullary thymomas generally behaved as benign tumors. Further subclassification of cortical thymomas into organoid thymoma, conventional thymoma, and WDTC did not provide more information about clinical behavior. By Kaplan-Meier's actuarial survival analyses none of the epithelial subtypes displayed a statistically significant influence on prognosis. It is concluded that staging remains the most important factor affecting the patient's outcome. Because of the existence of many intermediate forms and the deficiency of clinical relevance, the subclassification of cortical thymomas should be interpreted as a morphological continuum rather than as distinct histological variants.

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