Extrapulmonary Small Cell Cancer: A New Insight into a Rare Disease

Leora Brazg Ferro*, Ido Wolf, Shira Peleg Hasson, Inbal Golomb, Ester Osher, Alla Berlin, Orit Gutfeld, Inna Ospovat, Viacheslav Soyfer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Extrapulmonary small-cell cancer (EPSCC) is a relatively rare malignancy. The management of EPSCC is usually extrapolated from small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). In spite of the morphological similarity of the 2 malignancies, there are many differences in clinical features, prognosis, and recommendations of treatment of these disorders. The data on the correlation of clinical-pathological characteristics of EPSCC and treatment results is scarce. Materials and Methods: This retrospective analysis of 41 consecutively treated patients diagnosed with EPSCC in 2015-2018 was performed in a tertiary medical center. The correlation between the clinical and pathological characteristics and the treatment outcome (response rate, disease-free interval, and overall medial survival) was done using the standard statistics, Kaplan-Meier method, and multivariate analyses. The stratification was done on the stage of the disease, Ki-67 proliferative index, the location of the tumor, and smoking. Results: Forty-one patients were included with a median age of 66.3 years. The most common primary site was the gastrointestinal tract (28, 68.3%) including the pancreas. The most common distant metastasis site was the liver (23, 56.1%). Only 2 patients (4.9%) had brain metastases. Unlike in SCLC, most patients did not have any history of smoking (23, 56.1%). Nineteen patients with metastatic disease received systemic treatment, mostly cisplatin-based chemotherapy, with a response rate of 57.9%. The results of treatment were significantly better in patients with disseminated EPSCC with Ki-67 <55%, while its role in limited disease was nonsignificant. Discussion: The results of our study show the unique entity of EPSCC. The rarity of brain metastases proves that prophylactic brain irradiation should not be recommended in practice. The provocative idea of prophylactic liver irradiation in limited-stage EPSCC of gastrointestinal origin can be evaluated in future studies. The predictive role of Ki-67 is important in metastatic EPSCC. There is probably no role of smoking in developing EPSCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-379
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2021


  • High-grade neuroendocrine tumors
  • Retrospective study
  • Small-cell cancer


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