Pathologic classification and clinical behavior of the spectrum of goblet cell carcinoid tumors of the appendix

Am J Surg Pathol. 2008 Oct;32(10):1429-43. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e31817f1816.


Appendiceal tumors exhibiting both neuroendocrine and glandular differentiation are uncommon and have caused difficulty in pathologic classification, prediction of prognosis, and clinical management. Previously, such lesions have been variously designated as adenocarcinoid, goblet cell carcinoid (GCC), and mixed adenocarcinoma carcinoid. In this study, we undertook a retrospective investigation of 63 such cases and classified them as typical GCC (group A) and adenocarcinoma ex GCC on the basis of the histologic features of the tumor at the primary site. The adenocarcinoma ex GCC group was further divided into signet ring cell type (group B) and poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma type (group C). The clinical characteristics and prognosis were compared within these groups and with conventional de novo appendiceal adenocarcinomas. Both groups A and B tumors shared a similar immunoprofile, which included generally focal immunoreactivity for neuroendocrine markers, and a normal intestinal type mucin glycoprotein profile (negative MUC1 expression and preserved MUC2 immunoreactivity). The proliferative index was relatively low in these tumors and slightly increased from groups A to B tumors (11% to 16%). Both beta-catenin and E-cadherin exhibited a normal membranous staining pattern in groups A and B tumors. The poorly differentiated adenocarcinomas ex GCC (group C) demonstrated abnormal p53 and beta-catenin immunoreactivity. The mean follow-up time was 49+/-5 (SE) months. The overall disease-specific survival for all subtypes was 77%, with 46% of patients without evidence of disease and 31% alive with disease. The mean survival was 43+/-7 months. All the patients with clinical stage of I or IIA disease had a favorable outcome after appropriate surgery with or without chemotherapy. Although most patients (63%) with GCC presented at an advanced clinical stage, their clinical outcome could be differentiated by subclassification of tumors. The stage IV-matched 5-year survival was 100%, 38%, and 0% for groups A, B, and C, respectively. In conclusion, GCC is a distinctive appendiceal neoplasm that exhibits unique pathologic features and clinical behavior. They display a spectrum of histologic features and possess the potential to transform to an adenocarcinoma phenotype of either signet ring cell or poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma types. Careful evaluation of the morphologic features of GCCs and appropriate pathologic classification are crucial for clinical management and prediction of outcome. Surgical management with right hemicolectomy is recommended after appendectomy for most cases, particularly those with an adenocarcinoma component (groups B and C).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / classification
  • Adenocarcinoma / immunology
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Appendectomy
  • Appendiceal Neoplasms / classification
  • Appendiceal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Appendiceal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Appendiceal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Carcinoid Tumor / classification
  • Carcinoid Tumor / immunology
  • Carcinoid Tumor / pathology*
  • Carcinoid Tumor / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / classification
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / therapy
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Colectomy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Observer Variation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents