Malignant thymoma associated with autoimmune diseases: A retrospective study and review of the literature

Y. Levy, A. Afek, Y. Sherer, Y. Bar-Dayan, R. Shibi, J. Kopolovic, Y. Shoenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine whether malignant thymoma is associated with high rates of concomitantly occurring autoimmune diseases. Methods: Sheba Medical Center computer records from 1966 to 1995 were reviewed to identify patients with malignant thymoma, either type I (invasive thymoma) or type II (thymic carcinoma). All patients who had malignant thymoma and autoimmune phenomena were analyzed. The diagnosis of thymic neoplasm was confirmed by two independent pathologists. The diagnosis of autoimmune diseases was based on both clinical and serological findings. Results: Six of 22 (27%) cases of malignant thymoma had an autoimmune disease. Five patients had type I malignant thymoma and either myasthenia gravis (four patients) or Graves' disease (one patient). Only one patient had type II malignant thymoma with Sjogren's syndrome. The diagnosis of autoimmune disease preceded the diagnosis of thymic neoplasm in four cases, and was diagnosed simultaneously in two. Conclusions: Malignant thymomas are highly associated With autoimmune diseases, as are benign thymomas. To our knowledge, we report the first documented cases of a patient with thymic carcinoma and Sjogren's syndrome, and another with invasive thymoma and Graves' disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-79
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Invasive thymoma
  • Malignant thymoma
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Thymic carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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