Sinonasal malignancies with neuroendocrine differentiation: patterns of failure according to histologic phenotype

Cancer. 2004 Dec 1;101(11):2567-73. doi: 10.1002/cncr.20693.


Background: Sinonasal neuroendocrine tumors are rare malignancies that are represented by a spectrum of histologies, including esthesioneuroblastoma (ENB), sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma (SNUC), neuroendocrine carcinoma (NEC), and small cell carcinoma (SmCC). The authors reviewed their institutional experience to determine whether sinonasal neuroendocrine tumors of different histologies have distinct clinical characteristics that warrant individualized treatment approaches.

Methods: The authors treated 72 adults with pathologically proven, nonmetastatic, primary sinonasal neuroendocrine tumors from 1982 to 2002. There were 31 patients with ENB, 16 patients with SNUC, 18 patients with NEC, and 7 patients with SmCC. Patients with ENB usually were treated with local therapy alone (surgery and/or radiotherapy); only 3 of 31 patients (9.7%) received treatment (radiation) to regional lymphatics, and only 5 of 31 patients (16.1%) received chemotherapy. In contrast, patients with non-ENB histologies usually received chemotherapy (10 of 16 patients with SNUC, 12 of 18 patients with NEC, and 5 of 7 patients with SmCC), and nonsurgical locoregional therapy was used more frequently (6 of 16 patients with SNUC, 4 of 18 patients with NEC, and 5 of 7 patients with SmCC).

Results: The median follow-up for surviving patients was 81.5 months (range, 6-266 months). The Kaplan-Meier estimate of overall survival at 5 years was 93.1% for patients with ENB, 62.5% for patients with SNUC, 64.2% for patients with NEC, and 28.6% for patients with SmCC (P = 0.0029; log-rank test). The local control rate at 5 years also was superior for patients who had ENB (96.2%) compared with patients who had SNUC (78.6%), NEC (72.6%), or SmCC (66.7%) (P = 0.04). The regional failure (RF) rate at 5 years was 8.7% for patients with ENB, 15.6% for patients with SNUC, 12.9% for patients with NEC, and 44.4% for patients with SmCC. Additional late events increased the RF rate for patients with ENB to 31.9% at 10 years. The distant metastasis rate at 5 years was 0.0% for patients with ENB, 25.4% for patients with SNUC, 14.1% for patients with NEC, and 75.0% for patients with SmCC.

Conclusions: This spectrum of malignancies with neuroendocrine features shares a common site of origin within the head and neck, but their natural histories appear to diverge into two main groups: ENB and non-ENB. Patients with ENB had excellent local and distant control rates with local therapy alone. Given the higher rates of systemic failure for patients with SNUC, NEC, and SmCC, the authors favor the use of combined-modality therapy for these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / pathology*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / therapy
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Retrospective Studies