Background. Neuroendocrine differentiation in the prostate gland ranges from clinically insignificant neuroendocrine differentiation detected with markers in an otherwise conventional prostatic adenocarcinoma to a lethal high-grade small/large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma. The concept of neuroendocrine differentiation in prostatic adenocarcinoma has gained considerable importance due to its prognostic and therapeutic ramifications and pathologists play a pivotal role in its recognition. However, its awareness, reporting, and resource utilization practice patterns among pathologists are largely unknown. Methods. Representative examples of different spectrums of neuroendocrine differentiation along with a detailed questionnaire were shared among 39 urologic pathologists using the survey monkey software. Participants were specifically questioned about the use and awareness of the 2016 WHO classification of neuroendocrine tumors of the prostate, understanding of the clinical significance of each entity, and use of different immunohistochemical (IHC) markers. De-identified respondent data were analyzed. Results. A vast majority (90%) of the participants utilize IHC markers to confirm the diagnosis of small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma. A majority (87%) of the respondents were in agreement regarding the utilization of type of IHC markers for small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma for which 85% of the pathologists agreed that determination of the site of origin of a high-grade neuroendocrine carcinoma is not critical, as these are treated similarly. In the setting of mixed carcinomas, 62% of respondents indicated that they provide quantification and grading of the acinar component. There were varied responses regarding the prognostic implication of focal neuroendocrine cells in an otherwise conventional acinar adenocarcinoma and for Paneth cell-like differentiation. The classification of large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma was highly varied, with only 38% agreement in the illustrated case. Finally, despite the recommendation not to perform neuroendocrine markers in the absence of morphologic evidence of neuroendocrine differentiation, 62% would routinely utilize IHC in the work-up of a Gleason score 5 + 5 = 10 acinar adenocarcinoma and its differentiation from high-grade neuroendocrine carcinoma. Conclusion. There is a disparity in the practice utilization patterns among the urologic pathologists with regard to diagnosing high-grade neuroendocrine carcinoma and in understanding the clinical significance of focal neuroendocrine cells in an otherwise conventional acinar adenocarcinoma and Paneth cell-like neuroendocrine differentiation. There seems to have a trend towards overutilization of IHC to determine neuroendocrine differentiation in the absence of neuroendocrine features on morphology. The survey results suggest a need for further refinement and development of standardized guidelines for the classification and reporting of neuroendocrine differentiation in the prostate gland.
Keywords: large cell carcinoma; neuroendocrine tumor; prostate gland; small cell carcinoma; survey.