Objective: To compare the incidence, mortality, and presentation of small cell carcinoma of the cervix with other histologies.
Methods: From 1977 to 2003, 290 women with small cell carcinoma of the cervix uteri were identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database. Also, 27,527 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix and 5,231 patients with adenocarcinoma of the cervix were identified for comparison. The annual incidence was calculated and examined for trend. Patient and disease characteristics were compared among histologies. Univariable analyses were conducted using the log-rank test. Multivariable analysis was performed using Cox regression.
Results: The mean annual incidence for small cell carcinoma was 0.06 per 100,000 women, compared with 6.6 and 1.2 for squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, respectively. There were significant differences at presentation between small cell carcinoma compared with squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma for race, treatment, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics stage, and lymph node involvement (P<.05). A trend for improved survival was identified for adenocarcinoma (P=.036) and squamous cell carcinoma (P<.001) but not for small cell carcinoma (P=.672). Five-year survival for small cell carcinoma (35.7%) was worse compared with squamous cell carcinoma (60.5%, hazard ratio 0.55; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.43-0.69) and adenocarcinoma (69.7%, hazard ratio 0.48; 95% CI 0.37-0.61). On multivariable analysis, age, stage, and race were prognostic for survival in women with small cell carcinoma (P<.05).
Conclusion: Small cell carcinoma is a rare histology of cervical cancer associated with a worse prognosis and a predilection for nodal and distant metastasis. The decrease in survival was marked in early-stage and node-negative patients. Because of the high rates of nodal involvement even with early-stage disease, multimodality treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy should be considered.
Level of evidence: II.