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Small cell (neuroendocrine / undifferentiated) carcinoma

Reviewer: Nat Pernick, M.D., PathologyOutlines.com, Inc. (see Reviewers page)
Revised: 26 June 2011, last major update June 2011
Copyright: (c) 2006-2011, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.


● Rare, aggressive
● Both conventional and liquid-based cytology have low sensitivity

Cytology description

● Single or groups of small cells or gland-like aggregates with minimal cytoplasm, hyperchromatic nuclei with evenly distributed, finely stippled chromatin, nuclear molding and smearing; no nucleoli (Acta Cytol 1998;42:978)
● More variation than lymphocytes; may be only a few suspicious epithelial cells or no abnormalities on cervical smear (Cancer 1998;84:281)
● Often mitotic activity and karyorrhectic debris
Liquid based cytology: moderate to highly cellular; loose aggregates or isolated small round cells with high N/C ratio, scant cytoplasm, thin but irregular nuclear membrane, hyperchromatic nuclei with salt and pepper (finely stippled) chromatin and prominent chromocenters, usually indistinct nucleoli; often tumor cell cannibalism, variable nuclear molding and smearing; background of tumor diathesis; associated with SIL or koilocytosis (Acta Cytol 2003;47:56, Diagn Cytopathol 2001;24:46, Diagn Cytopathol 2000;23:14)

Cytology images

Various images

Liquid based cytology

Positive stains

● Keratin, p16INK4, synaptophysin, chromogranin, CD56 (Diagn Cytopathol 2010 Oct 1 [Epub ahead of print])

End of Cervix-cytology > Carcinoma > Small cell (neuroendocrine / undifferentiated) carcinoma

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