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Keywords:

  • thymic carcinoid tumour;
  • pigmented spindle cell carcinoid tumour;
  • spindle cell thymoma;
  • spindle cell thymic carcinoma;
  • mediastinal spindle cell neoplasm;
  • Cushing's syndrome

Pigmented spindle cell carcinoid tumour of the thymus with ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone secretion: report of a rare variant and differential diagnosis of mediastinal spindle cell neoplasms

Aims: A variety of histological variants of thymic carcinoid tumour have been described. A rare case of pigmented spindle cell carcinoid tumour of the thymus is documented and compared with the reported cases of thymic pigmented carcinoid tumour in the literature, with a discussion of the differential diagnosis of spindle cell tumours of the mediastinum.

Methods and results: A thymic tumour with ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secretion was resected from a 24-year-old man suffering from Cushing's syndrome. Histological, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural studies revealed an ACTH-producing spindle cell carcinoid tumour harbouring pigmented melanocytes. Among four thymic pigmented carcinoid tumours reported before, only one was similar to the present case by being also an ACTH-secreting pigmented spindle cell thymic carcinoid tumour. The clinicopathological features of this tumour distinguish it from a spindle cell thymoma, spindle cell thymic carcinoma, and other mediastinal spindle cell tumours.

Conclusions: This case illustrates an extremely rare variant of thymic carcinoid tumour exhibiting a spindle cell morphology and harbouring pigmented melanocytes. Awareness of this histological variant is important in the differential diagnosis of spindle cell tumours of the mediastinum.