Spindle epithelial tumor with thymus-like differentiation (SETTLE) of the thyroid

Head Neck. 2002 Sep;24(9):888-93. doi: 10.1002/hed.10111.


Background: Tumors of the so-called intrathyroidal epithelial thymoma type are a rare group of thyroid neoplasm tumors. Of this type of tumor, spindle epithelial tumor with thymus like differentiation (SETTLE) has been reported only 17 times in English literature.

Methods: An 18-year-old woman was initially seen with a 6-cm left thyroid mass that was resected with a left thyroidectomy. Histopathologic features of the excised left thyroid tumor together with an immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy led us to a diagnosis of SETTLE.

Results: Most of the specimen was composed of highly cellular spindle cells that formed intersecting and streaming fascicles. The spindle cells showed both vimentin immunoreactivity and cytokeratin immunoreactivity but no immunoreactivity for thyroglobulin or calcitonin. Electron microscopic examination of the spindle cells demonstrated prominent cytoplasmic tonofilaments, desmosomes, and basal lamina consistent with epithelial cell origin. DNA content analysis by flow cytometry revealed DNA diploidy.

Conclusions: SETTLE of thyroid gland is an extremely rare entity. A review of the literature reveals that SETTLE has distinctive morphologic features and an immunohistochemical profile.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratins / analysis
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / pathology*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / surgery
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / ultrastructure
  • Prognosis
  • Thymus Gland / pathology*
  • Thymus Gland / surgery
  • Thymus Gland / ultrastructure
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / ultrastructure
  • Vimentin / analysis


  • Vimentin
  • Keratins