Nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, nasopharynx
Sinonasal carcinoma
Small cell carcinoma

Author: Abul Ala Syed Rifat Mannan, M.D. (see Authors page)
Editor: Songyang Yuan, M.D., Ph.D.

Revised: 21 May 2018, last major update November 2013

Copyright: (c) 2004-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Small cell carcinoma[TIAB] nasal

Page views in 2018: 1,391
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Cite this page: Mannan, A.A.S.R. Small cell carcinoma. website. Accessed January 23rd, 2019.
Definition / general
  • High grade neuroendocrine tumor, morphologically similar to those occurring in pulmonary or other extrapulmonary sites
  • Also known as small cell carcinoma, neuroendocrine type, small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma
  • Rare tumor, with no gender or racial predilection
  • Age range is from 26 - 77 years, with a mean age of 49 years
  • Commonly arises in nasal cavity, often extends into maxillary or ethmoid sinuses
  • Primary tumors of maxillary or ethmoid sinuses are less common
Clinical features
  • Epistaxis and nasal obstruction are common symptoms, followed by facial pain, palpable facial mass and exophthalmos
  • No known etiologic association
Prognostic factors
  • Aggressive tumor with poor prognosis and frequent local recurrence and distant metastasis despite multimodal therapy
Case reports
  • There are no specific management guidelines, due to rarity of the tumor
  • Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy alone or in combination have been used with variable results
Clinical images

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Clinical presentation

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Sheets or ribbons of closely packed oval to spindle shaped cells with high nuclear cytoplasmic ratio, dense chromatin and inconspicuous nucleoli
  • Nuclear molding, mitoses, necrosis, angiolymphatic and perineural invasion are common
  • Rosettes may be seen
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Small round cells
with scant cytoplasm
and hyperchromatic



Sinonasal neuroendocrine carcinoma

Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma

Positive stains
Flow cytometry images

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Typical case of small cell carcinoma

Additional references