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Histopathologic changes of thymoma preoperatively treated with corticosteroids

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Preoperative treatment of thymoma in advanced stages with corticosteroids may reduce the size of the tumor, but no precise histologic evaluation has been performed. We examined the histopathologic features of pretreatment biopsy and posttreatment surgical specimens of eleven cases of thymoma with such treatment to see the changes of the histologic subtypes based on Muller–Hermelink classification. All specimens were also assessed immunohistochemically for MIB-1 labeling and apoptotic cells to verify the effectiveness of this pretreatment. Seven tumors clinically diminished in size after the treatment with corticosteroids. Fungal infection occurred in three cases postoperatively. The histology of mixed thymomas (two cases) was converted to that of medullary thymoma. Predominantly cortical thymomas (four cases) and cortical thymomas (three cases) changed to show similar histologic features; both became epithelial-rich thymoma with large polygonal tumor cells having indistinct cell borders. In contrast, two well-differentiated thymic carcinomas showed at surgery more prominent squamoid appearance with distinct cell borders. The apoptotic indices of epithelial cells were increased (P=0.001), and the MIB-1 indices tended to be decreased with corticosteroid treatment. These results suggest that there may be a histogenetic relationship between medullary and mixed thymomas and also between predominantly cortical and cortical thymomas. Corticosteroids may cause degenerative changes in the epithelial cells and lymphocytes and, in thymomas in advanced stages, corticosteroid pretreatment may be warranted, although attention should be paid to infection after surgery.

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Tateyama, H., Takahashi, E., Saito, Y. et al. Histopathologic changes of thymoma preoperatively treated with corticosteroids. Virchows Arch 438, 238–247 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004280000333

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  • Thymoma Corticosteroid therapy Apoptosis Proliferative rate