Large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of prostate: a clinicopathologic summary of 7 cases of a rare manifestation of advanced prostate cancer

Am J Surg Pathol. 2006 Jun;30(6):684-93. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200606000-00003.


Neuroendocrine (NE) differentiation in prostate cancer is typically detected by immunohistochemistry as single cells in conventional adenocarcinoma. Prostatic NE tumors, such as carcinoid or small cell carcinoma, are rare and large cell NE carcinoma (LCNEC) is described only in case reports. We identified 7 cases of LCNEC and compiled their clinicopathologic characteristics. In 6 cases, there was a history of adenocarcinoma treated with hormone therapy for a mean of 2.4 years (range: 2 to 3 y). The remaining case was de novo LCNEC. LCNEC was incidentally diagnosed in palliative transurethral resection specimens in 5 cases. The mean patient age at diagnosis with LCNEC was 67 years (range: 43 to 81 y). LCNEC comprised solid sheets and ribbons of cells with abundant pale to amphophilic cytoplasm, large nuclei with coarse chromatin and prominent nucleoli along with brisk mitotic activity and foci of necrosis. In 6 cases, there were foci of admixed adenocarcinoma, 4 of which showed hormone therapy effects. LCNEC was strongly positive for CD56, CD57, chromogranin A, synaptophysin, and P504S/alpha methylacyl CoA racemase. There was strong bcl-2 overexpression, expression of MIB1, and p53 in >50% of nuclei, focally positive staining for prostate specific antigen and prostatic acid phosphatase and negative androgen receptor staining. Follow-up was available for 6 patients, all of who died with metastatic disease at mean of 7 months (range: 3 to 12 mo) after platinum-based chemotherapy. LCNEC of prostate is a distinct clinicopathologic entity that typically manifests after long-term hormonal therapy for prostatic adenocarcinoma and likely arises through clonal progression under the selection pressure of therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / pathology*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen