Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Thyroid Research and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Case report

Mediastinal neoplasms in patients with Graves disease: a possible link between sustained hyperthyroidism and thymic neoplasia?

Jonathan D Boyd1 and Ridas Juskevicius12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Vidant Medical Center and Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

2 Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, 600 Moye Blvd, Brody Medical Sciences Building 7S18, Greenville, NC, 27858-4353, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Thyroid Research 2012, 5:5  doi:10.1186/1756-6614-5-5

Published: 23 July 2012



Anterior mediastinal masses are a rare but well documented finding in Graves disease. The vast majority of these lesions represents benign thymic hypertrophy and regress after treatment of the hyperthyroidism. A small percentage of these cases however represent neoplastic/malignant diseases which require further treatment.


12 year old boy with one year history of refractory Graves disease was found to have an anterior mediastinal mass and underwent curative thyroidectomy for sustained hyperthyroidism. Cervical lymphadenopathy was detected during the procedure and biopsy was obtained. A 23 year old woman who presented with a one month history of hyperthyroid symptoms, was diagnosed with Graves disease and also was found to have an anterior mediastinal mass on imaging. Biopsy of the anterior mediastinal mass was obtained and subsequently the patient underwent robotic thymectomy. Histologic examination and immunophenotyping of the cervical lymph node in a 12 year old boy revealed neoplastic proliferation of T lymphoblasts diagnostic of T lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma. Examination of the anterior mediastinal mass biopsy in the 23 year old woman revealed type B1 thymoma which was confirmed after examination of the subsequent robotic thymectomy specimen.


This is the first reported case of T cell lymphoblastic lymphoma and the third reported case of thymoma associated with sustained hyperthyroidism due to Graves disease. These cases indicate that an anterior mediastinal mass in a patient with active Graves disease may be due to a neoplastic cause, which may require definitive treatment. Caution should be exercised when dismissing a mediastinal mass as benign thymic hyperplasia in patients with active Graves disease.

Graves disease; Hyperthyroidism; Thymoma; T Lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma; Thymic hyperplasia