Background: Large-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (LCNEC) of the lung displays morphologic and immunohistochemical characteristics common to neuroendocrine tumors and morphologic features of large-cell carcinomas. Because surgical resection of LCNEC in many series has been described with 5-year actuarial survival that is far worse than that reported for other histologic variants of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), considerable debate has emerged as to whether these tumors should be classified and treated as NSCLC or small-cell lung cancer.
Methods: The initial evaluation and diagnosis, tumor classification, surgical treatment, results of therapy, and long-term prognosis of patients with LCNEC based on our experience are discussed, and a review of the literature is presented.
Results: Patients with LCNEC are more likely to develop recurrent lung cancer and have shorter actuarial survival than patients with other histologic types of NSCLC, even in those with stage I disease.
Conclusions: Accurate differentiation of LCNEC from other types of NSCLC is important because it identifies those patients at highest risk for developing recurrent disease. Efforts to identify effective adjuvant therapies are needed to improve treatment outcomes with this aggressive type of lung cancer.