Small-cell carcinoma of the gastrointestinal tract: A retrospective study of 64 cases
Carcinoma, Small Cell
Small-cell carcinoma (SmCC) of the gastrointestinal tract is a very rare and aggressive malignancy. To better define its clinicopathological features, the records of all patients with this disease seen at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center between 1980 and 2002 (n=64) were reviewed. The most common primary tumour locations were in the large bowel and oesophagus. Predisposing medical conditions for non-small-cell cancers, positive family cancer history, and metachronous tumours were common. In all, 37% had mixed tumour histology and 48% presented with extensive disease, according to the Veterans' Administration Lung Study group (VALSG) staging system used for small-cell lung cancer. Treatment outcome in limited disease (LD) suggested a role for surgery and chemotherapy. Platinum-based regimens resulted in a 50% response rate. The 2-year survival was 23% and two prognostic factors were identified, the extent of disease according to the VALSG system (P<0.01) and TNM stage (P=0.03). Anatomic location had no clinical impact. In conclusion, SmCC from various gastrointestinal sites can be viewed as one clinical entity. Mixed tumour histology is common and may affect therapy. Surgery, combined with chemotherapy, should be considered for LD. The value of the VALSG system was implied and possible differences from small-cell lung cancer were noted.