Background: Small cell carcinoma of the cervix is a rare and aggressive tumor. Most gynecologic oncology centers have little experience with this tumor, and only small series have been published.
Methods: Twenty-six patients with small cell carcinoma of the uterine cervix were treated at the Norwegian Radium Hospital. Clinical data, immunohistochemical characteristics, and infection with human papillomavirus were studied.
Results: Twelve tumors were of oat cell type and 14 of intermediate cell type. Twelve tumors were associated with other forms of carcinoma: squamous cell carcinoma (6 tumors), adenocarcinoma (5 tumors), and adenocarcinoma in situ (1 tumor). Neuroendocrine differentiation was expressed in 79% of the tumors. Human papillomavirus (HPV)-18 was detected in 40% of the tumors and HPV-16 in 28%. Fifteen patients had Stage I disease, 7 had Stage II, 2 had Stage III, and 3 had Stage IV. Fourteen patients with Stage I and II disease underwent radical hysterectomy with pelvic lymph node dissection. In four, the operation was preceded by intracavitary radiation treatment. The patients with Stage II, III, and IV disease were treated with a combination of intracavitary radium, external beam radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The 5-year survival rate was 14%. Four patients are alive, one with recurrent disease 50 months after diagnosis. Three patients free of disease have been followed up 26, 54, and 101 months, respectively.
Conclusions: Small cell carcinoma of the cervix is an aggressive tumor with a propensity for rapid recurrence; it is associated with high mortality.