Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Clinical and immunohistochemical study of eight cases with thymic carcinoma

Masaki Tomita*, Yasunori Matsuzaki, Masao Edagawa, Masayuki Maeda, Tetsuya Shimizu, Masaki Hara and Toshio Onitsuka

Author Affiliations

Department of Surgery II, Miyazaki Medical College, Kihara 5200, Kiyotake, Miyazaki, 889-1692, Japan

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BMC Surgery 2002, 2:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-2-3

Published: 23 May 2002



Thymic carcinoma is a rare neoplasm with extremely poor prognosis. To evaluate the biological characteristics of thymic carcinoma, we reviewed 8 patients.


There were 2 men and 6 women: ages ranged from 19 to 67 years old (mean 54.8 years). None of these patients had concomitant myasthenia gravis and pure red cell aplasia. No patient had stage I disease, 1 stage II, 5 stage III, and 2 stage IV. The pathologic subtypes of thymic carcinoma included 5 squamous cell carcinomas, 1 adenosquamous cell carcinomas, 1 clear cell carcinoma, and 1 small cell carcinoma. Immunohistochemical study was performed using antibodies against p53, bcl-2, Ki-67, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), nm23-H1, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) and factor VIII.


Curative resection could be done in 4 patients (50%). Our data indicates a trend toward an association between complete resection and patient survival. Expression of p53, bcl-2, CEA, EMA, nm23-H1, VEGF and FGF-2 was detected in 5/8, 3/8, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8, 5/8 and 3/8, respectively. Mean Ki-67 labeling index and microvessel density was 7.01 and 34.36 (per 200× field), respectively. When compared with our previous studies, immunohistochemical staining of these proteins in thymomas, the expression rates of these proteins in thymic carcinomas were higher than those in thymomas.


In this small series, it is suggested that a complete resection suggests a favorable result. Immunohistochemical results reveal that the expression of these proteins might indicate the aggressiveness of thymic carcinoma.