Article Abstract

Pathological discrepancies in the diagnosis of thymic epithelial tumors: the Tallinn-Lyon experience

Authors: Kersti Oselin, Nicolas Girard, Katrin Lepik, Aidi Adamson-Raieste, Tõnu Vanakesa, Ingemar Almre, Tiina Leismann, Lara Chalabreysse


Background: Thymic epithelial tumors are rare thoracic tumors for which pathological diagnosis is challenging due to the definition of multiple subtypes, tumor heterogeneity, and variations in interobserver reproducibility. In this study, we aimed at analyzing the quality of pathological reporting in line with the consistency between initial diagnosis and final diagnosis after expert review through a collaboration between the largest thoracic oncology center in Estonia, and one expert center in France.
Methods: Hospital electronic database and pathology databases from the Tallinn North Estonia Medical Centre were searched for thymic and mediastinal tumors from 2010 to 2017. Pathology specimens were referred to the Pathology Department of the Lyon University hospital. Overall, 55 tissue specimens from 49 patients were included.
Results: From pathology reports, tumor size, diagnosis, and invasion had been mentioned in ≥80% of cases, while resection status and staging were assessed in only 48% and 17% of cases, respectively. The initial diagnosis was consistent with that of the review in 60% of cases. Diagnostic concordance for thymoma subtypes was low (Cohen’s kappa 0.34, 95% CI: 0.16–0.52). Overall, a major change in the management of 8 (16%) patients had to be made after pathological review: 3 patients had a normal thymus according to the reference centre, while thymoma B1 or B2 had been diagnosed locally; 5 additional patients had a final diagnosis of non-thymic tumor.
Conclusions: Implementing structured pathology reports may help to decrease discrepancies in the diagnosis of thymic epithelial tumors. The development of expert networks is an opportunity to improve diagnosis and patient care, particularly in regard to rare cancers.