Background: A case of disseminated mediastinal carcinoma probably of thymic origin is reported in a 5-year-old boy with an anterior mediastinal mass associated with superior vena cava obstruction, tracheal deviation, right malignant pleural effusion, and evidence of bone metastasis. The diagnosis was based on findings of radiologic localization, light and electron microscopic study, and immunohistochemistry. The patient received combination chemotherapy but died of progressive disease.
Methods: Cytogenic study on the pleural fluid was attempted, and a literature search for similar chromosomal aberration was performed.
Results: Cytogenetic study of tumor cells from the pleural fluid revealed a clonal chromosomal abnormality of t(15;19)(q12;p13.1). Two patients with similar disease were reported in the English literature; their clinical courses, immunohistochemical findings, and t(15;19) were almost identical to those of the patient reported in this study.
Conclusion: The authors suggest that this translocation may be specific to thymic carcinoma and may indicate a particularly aggressive form of the disease. Carcinomas are rare in children, so the chromosomal translocation may serve as a helpful marker for the diagnosis.