Objective: The combination chemotherapy consisting of cisplatin and etoposide, one of the standard regimens for small cell lung cancer, has been widely used to treat extrapulmonary poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas. However, there were no prior reports limited to the hepatobiliary tract and pancreas as the primary sites.
Methods: We reviewed the cases in our database from October 1995 to January 2009 and retrospectively examined the clinical data of patients, with unresectable or recurrent poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma arising from the hepatobiliary tract and pancreas, who received combination chemotherapy with cisplatin and etoposide as the first-line treatment. The chemotherapy regimen consisted of cisplatin 80 mg/m(2) given intravenously on day 1 and etoposide 100 mg/m(2) intravenously on days 1-3, repeated every 3-4 weeks.
Results: Twenty-one patients were treated with the above regimen of cisplatin and etoposide combination chemotherapy. The primary tumor site was the liver in 2 patients, gallbladder in 8 patients, pancreas in 10 patients and ampulla of Vater in 1 patient. Although no complete responses were obtained, three patients had partial responses, resulting in an overall response rate of 14%. Median progression-free survival was 1.8 months, and median overall survival was 5.8 months. The major adverse events were myelosuppression and gastrointestinal toxicities, with Grade 3 or 4 neutropenia (90%), nausea (33%) and anorexia (24%).
Conclusions: Cisplatin and etoposide combination as the first-line chemotherapy for hepatobiliary or pancreatic poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma had only marginal antitumor activity and relatively severe toxicity compared with previous studies on extrapulmonary poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma treated with the same regimen.