Cytomorphological features of cervical small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma in SurePath™ liquid-based cervical samples

Cytopathology. 2021 Jul 9. doi: 10.1111/cyt.13030. Online ahead of print.


Small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (SCNEC) of the cervix is a rare, highly aggressive tumour with poor prognosis and high propensity for distant metastases. The cytological features of SCNEC have rarely been described in cervical samples, and to the best of our knowledge, there are no previous reports using SurePath™ liquid-based cytology. In the present report we present the cytomorphological features of histopathologically confirmed cases of cervical SCNEC in SurePath preparations. On cytological examination, all three cases demonstrated variable numbers of tumour cells, ranging from a few dispersed cells and tiny micro-biopsies to large aggregates of small tumour cells with a high nucleus-to-cytoplasmic ratio, stippled chromatin, inconspicuous nucleoli, and scant cytoplasm. Immunocytochemistry for CD56 on the cervical preparation confirmed the diagnosis in one case. The presence of small tumour cells with characteristic stippled/salt-and-pepper type nuclear chromatin were the most consistent cytological features in these cases. Knowledge of these characteristic cytological features can help in suggesting a diagnosis of SCNEC in cervical samples which can then be confirmed by immunocytochemistry.

Keywords: Pap smear; cervical cytology; cytology; immunocytochemistry; liquid-based cytology; neuroendocrine carcinoma; small cell carcinoma cervix; small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports