Distinct genetic alterations in small cell carcinoma from different anatomic sites

Xiaoyong Zheng, Delong Liu, John T. Fallon, Minghao Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Small cell carcinoma (SmCC) is a distinct clinicopathological entity first described in the lung. It represents approximately 15% of all bronchogenic carcinoma. Extrapulmonary small cell carcinoma (EPSmCC) morphologically indistinguishable from small cell lung cancer (SCLC) was first reported in 1930. Since its first description, EPSmCC has been reported in virtually all anatomical sites, including: gynecologic organs (ovary and cervix); genitourinary organs (urinary bladder and prostate); the gastrointestinal tract (esophagus); skin (Merkel cell carcinoma) and head and neck region. Regardless of the anatomic sites, all SmCCs have similar, if not identical, histo-pathology features and immunohistochemical profile. SmCC is one of the most aggressive malignancies. The molecular mechanisms underlying its development and progression remain poorly understood. Herein, we reviewed the literature in SmCC in respect to its site of occurrence, clinical features, immunohistochemical characteristics. SmCCs have heterogeneous molecular mutations. Dinstinct genetic alterations associated with SmCC from different body sites were reviewed. Some genetic alterations such as RB1, TP53 are commonly seen in different origins of SmCC. Other genes with site specificity were also summarized, such as bladder SmCC with TERT promoter mutations; prostate SmCC with ERG translocations; ovarian SmCC with SMARCA4 mutations; Merkel cell carcinoma (skin) and cervical SmCC with Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV or MCPyV) and human papillomavirus (HPV). Further studies are needed to employ a genetically oriented approach for the diagnosis and therapy of SmCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalExperimental Hematology and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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