Small-Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary, Hypercalcemic Type-Genetics, New Treatment Targets, and Current Management Guidelines

Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Aug 1;26(15):3908-3917. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-3797. Epub 2020 Mar 10.


Small-cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT) is a rare and highly aggressive ovarian malignancy. In almost all cases, it is associated with somatic and often germline pathogenic variants in SMARCA4, which encodes for the SMARCA4 protein (BRG1), a subunit of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex. Approximately 20% of human cancers possess pathogenic variants in at least one SWI/SNF subunit. Because of their role in regulating many important cellular processes including transcriptional control, DNA repair, differentiation, cell division, and DNA replication, SWI/SNF complexes with mutant subunits are thought to contribute to cancer initiation and progression. Fewer than 500 cases of SCCOHT have been reported in the literature and approximately 60% are associated with hypercalcemia. SCCOHT primarily affects females under 40 years of age who usually present with symptoms related to a pelvic mass. SCCOHT is an aggressive cancer, with long-term survival rates of 30% in early-stage cases. Although various treatment approaches have been proposed, there is no consensus on surveillance and therapeutic strategy. An international group of multidisciplinary clinicians and researchers recently formed the International SCCOHT Consortium to evaluate current knowledge and propose consensus surveillance and therapeutic recommendations, with the aim of improving outcomes. Here, we present an overview of the genetics of this cancer, provide updates on new treatment targets, and propose management guidelines for this challenging cancer.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't