• thymic epithelial neoplasm;
  • thymoma;
  • thymic carcinoma;
  • histological classification;
  • cytokeratin


The classification of thymic epithelial neoplasms has been one of the most controversial issues in tumor pathology. There are two opposing schools of pathologists holding different views regarding the classification of thymic epithelial neoplasms. One school of pathologists believe that histological classification of thymomas is not possible or useful. Another school of pathologists believe that thymomas can be histologically subclassified despite their complex histomorphology and that these histological subtypes correlate with their aggressiveness and clinical behavior. A compromised histological classification has been established by World Health Organization (WHO) to designate thymic epithelial neoplasms with letters and numbers. This classification should be adopted internationally to facilitate the communication among concerned pathologists and oncologists. A simple histological classification of thymomas based on cytomorphology and supported by cytokeratin expressions is proposed and compared to the WHO and Müller-Hermelink's histogenetic classifications.