Large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas of the prostate
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Large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas (LCNEC) of the prostate or prostatic large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas are very aggressive and rare high-grade neuroendocrine tumors that are usually observed in the presence of an already existing adenocarcinoma and very rarely found alone.
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Large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas of the prostate are extremely rare in particular if they occur alone 1-3. The largest case series comprised only 7 cases and cases of pure large cell neuroendocrine tumors are very scarce 3,4.
Large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas of the prostate often occur in the presence of existing acinar adenocarcinomas in patients on long term androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) 1-3.
The diagnosis of prostatic large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas is based on histological features and immunohistochemistry.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) might be elevated but will be often low given the mere tumor volume. Voiding difficulties, urinary retention, hematuria or metastases are other presenting symptoms 4. Due to the close connection with acinar adenocarcinoma, there might be a known history of prostate cancer.
Large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas are high-grade neoplasms of the prostate which resemble pulmonary large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas 5, occur alone only very rarely but are usually associated with an acinar adenocarcinoma of the prostate 1,2.
The etiology of prostatic large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas is unknown.
Macroscopically prostatic large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas are usually characterized by large tumors nodules at the time of diagnosis.
Histologically prostatic large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas are characterized by the following morphological features 1-5:
- tumor cells with abundant cytoplasm
- coarse nuclei with prominent nucleoli
- vesicular clumped or coarse salt and pepper chromatin
- sheet and cord-like growth patterns with large nests
- lack of glandular formation
- peripheral palisading architecture
- geographic necrosis and apoptosis
- high mitotic count
- low nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio
Immunohistochemistry stains are usually positive for at least one neuroendocrine marker as synaptophysin, CD56 or chromogranin A. It is usually only focally positive or negative for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) 1-5.
Besides large cells, neuroendocrine carcinomas are usually characterized by a Ki67 index > 50% 1,2. Other potentially positive expressions include CD57 P504S and PSMA 2,3.
Large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas of the prostate are very rare and are mostly seen in close association with acinar adenocarcinoma of which the radiographic features are well described.
They might be already large at the time of diagnosis and there might be pelvic lymph node metastases 4.
Due to their very rare occurrence, there is a paucity of radiological descriptions of large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas of the prostate.
So if you have come across such a rare entity with a histologically secured diagnosis feel free to publish your case here and give us a description of your findings.
There are case descriptions of large cell neuroendocrine tumors showing uptake of FDG, PSMA and/or somatostatin receptor positivity 7.
The radiological report should include a description of the following features 4:
- form, location and size
- tumor margins
- extraprostatic extension
- seminal vesicle invasion
- bladder or rectal invasion
- suspicious or enlarged lymph nodes
Treatment and prognosis
The prognosis of large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of the prostate is very poor with descriptions of mean survival rates of about 7 months. This is probably because the tumor is very aggressive and often advanced at the time of diagnosis on one hand and secondary to a limited treatment experience on the other 2. Therefore management will be very likely multimodal 4. Besides, unlike small cell carcinoma of the prostate, reports exist that pure forms of prostatic large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma responded to androgen deprivation therapy 3-5.
Conditions and tumors that can mimic the clinical presentation or imaging appearance of prostatic large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma include 1-6:
- 1. Inamura K. Prostatic Cancers: Understanding Their Molecular Pathology and the 2016 WHO Classification. Oncotarget. 2018;9(18):14723-37. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.24515 - Pubmed
- 2. Epstein J, Amin M, Beltran H et al. Proposed Morphologic Classification of Prostate Cancer With Neuroendocrine Differentiation. Am J Surg Pathol. 2014;38(6):756-67. doi:10.1097/pas.0000000000000208 - Pubmed
- 3. Acosta-Gonzalez G, Qin J, Wieczorek R et al. De Novo Large Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma of the Prostate, Case Report and Literature Review. Am J Clin Exp Urol. 2014;2(4):337-42. PMC4297330 - Pubmed
- 4. Okoye E, Choi E, Divatia M, Miles B, Ayala A, Ro J. De Novo Large Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma of the Prostate Gland with Pelvic Lymph Node Metastasis: A Case Report with Review of Literature. Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2014;7(12):9061-6. PMC4313989 - Pubmed
- 5. Azad A, Jones E, Chi K. Metastatic Large-Cell Neuroendocrine Prostate Carcinoma: Successful Treatment With Androgen Deprivation Therapy. Clin Genitourin Cancer. 2014;12(4):e151-3. doi:10.1016/j.clgc.2014.03.006 - Pubmed
- 6. Lin D, Tan A, De Sousa A, Singh-Rai R. A Rare Case of Large Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma. Case Reports. 2014;2014(oct19 1):bcr2014206403. doi:10.1136/bcr-2014-206403 - Pubmed
- 7. Acar E & Kaya G. 18F-FDG, 68Ga-DOTATATE and 68Ga-PSMA Positive Metastatic Large Cell Neuroendocrine Prostate Tumor. Clin Nucl Med. 2019;44(1):53-4. doi:10.1097/rlu.0000000000002322 - Pubmed