A carcinoma showing thymus-like elements of the thyroid arising in close association with solid cell nests: evidence for a precursor lesion?

Thyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association

PubMedID: 23078135

Yerly S, Lobrinus JA, Bongiovanni M, Becker M, Zare M, Granger P, Pusztaszeri M. A carcinoma showing thymus-like elements of the thyroid arising in close association with solid cell nests: evidence for a precursor lesion?. Thyroid. 2013;23(4):511-6.
BACKGROUND
Carcinoma showing thymus-like elements (CASTLE) is a rare malignant neoplasm of the thyroid gland, morphologically and immunohistologically similar to a thymic carcinoma, whose histogenesis is still debated. Hypotheses include an origin from ectopic thymic tissue, vestige of the thymopharyngeal duct, or branchial pouch remnants from which solid cell nests (SC-nests) originate. The diagnosis of CASTLE may be treacherous due to its rarity and its propensity to mimic other poorly differentiated tumors such as squamous cell carcinoma.

METHODS
We present a case of CASTLE in a 58-year-old man initially diagnosed as a poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma both on fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) and on biopsy, arising in close association with SC-nests. A thorough literature review, with special emphasis on its diagnosis and histogenesis of CASTLE, was also conducted.

RESULTS
Magnetic resonance images revealed a 4.0-cm cervical mass on the left side of the trachea, involving the lateral middle/inferior portion of the left lobe of the thyroid gland. FNAC was performed with a diagnosis of "malignant cells, consistent with squamous cell carcinoma." A histological evaluation of the resected specimen revealed a malignant proliferation of cells, focally exhibiting a squamoid appearance, which were immunopositive for CD5 and p63. A diagnosis of CASTLE was made. The tumor was located in direct continuity with SC-Nests, and the cell morphology of both the SC-nests and CASTLE was very similar with merging. Moreover, the immunohistochemical expression profiles of most markers useful in the diagnosis of CASTLE were identical in the SC-nests.

CONCLUSIONS
The inclusion of CASTLE in the differential diagnosis of poorly differentiated tumors of the thyroid region and the use of ancillary studies are essential to diagnose this rare entity associated with a relatively favorable prognosis. The close association of CASTLE with SC-nests opens the way to a new scenario for studies of its histogenesis.