Objectives: To analyze the sites of relapse and overall survival in women with neuroendocrine marker-positive small cell carcinoma of the cervix.
Methods: The records of all women who had their initial treatment for cervical cancer at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center between 1980 and 2000 were reviewed. Fifty-one patients had stages I-III cancers that were originally described as "small cell" or "neuroendocrine." Histological material was available for reexamination in 45 cases; of these, 21 were found to have small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (SCNEC) as indicated by positive staining for chromogranin, synaptophysin, or CD56. Local treatment consisted of a radical hysterectomy in six patients and radiation therapy in 15. Thirteen patients received chemotherapy as part of their initial treatment. The median follow-up for surviving patients was 83 months (range, 25-209 months).
Results: Fourteen (66%) of the 21 patients had a relapse. The median time to first relapse from the initiation of treatment was 8.4 months (range, 3.6-28 months). Most patients developed hematogenous distant metastases before their death. Only 2 of 15 patients who were treated with radiation therapy had a recurrence within the radiation fields. However, five patients had a recurrence above the radiation fields in the paraaortic lymph nodes, and two patients had a recurrence distal to the pelvic fields in the vagina. No patient had brain metastases as the sole site of first recurrence. However, two patients developed brain metastases concurrently with lung metastases. The overall survival rate was 29% at 5 years; none of the patients who had disease more extensive than stage IB1 or clinical evidence of lymph node metastases survived their disease.
Conclusions: Patients with small cell neuroendocrine cervical cancer have a poor prognosis. Their course is frequently characterized by the development of widespread hematogenous metastases; locoregional recurrence outside irradiated fields is also frequent. Brain metastases were seen only in patients who also had lung metastases, suggesting that prophylactic cranial irradiation would be of little benefit.