Larynx, hypopharynx & trachea
Other malignancies
Small cell carcinoma

Topic Completed: 1 November 2013

Minor changes: 3 March 2021

Copyright: 2002-2021,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Small cell carcinoma [title] larynx

Nat Pernick, M.D.
Adriana Handra-Luca, M.D.
Page views in 2020: 357
Page views in 2021 to date: 84
Cite this page: Pernick N, Handra-Luca A. Small cell carcinoma. website. Accessed March 4th, 2021.
Definition / general
  • Aggressive tumor with common cervical, nodal and distant metastases
  • Less than 0.5% of all cases
  • May be associated with squamous cell carcinoma
  • Usually age 50+, men and heavy smokers
Clinical features
  • Trachea:
    • Histology similar to bronchial tumor
    • 6% of primary tracheal tumors in 1993 study (Thorax 1993;48:688)
    • Endotracheal nodule or eccentric wall thickening, papillomatous at endoscopy
    • May be tracheobronchic
    • May occur with hypophosphatemia osteomalacia and Cushing syndrome
    • May occur secondary to breast ductal carcinoma with radiation or be metastatic from lung primary
    • May metastasize to CNS
Case reports
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Sheets of small to medium sized cells with minimal cytoplasm, hyperchromatic nuclei with no prominent nucleoli
  • Resembles lung tumor; may have foci of squamous or glandular differentiation
  • Trachea:
    • Classic features of large neuroendocrine cells with high N/C ratio, hyperchromatic nuclei, crush artifact, nuclear molding
    • May show combined morphology with squamous cell carcinoma and giant cell carcinoma
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Adjacent islands of oat cell and
squamous cell carcinoma surrounded
by stroma containing bizarre giant
cells (haematoxylin and eosin x500)

Esophagus: small cell carcinoma, oat cell type

Positive stains
Negative stains
Differential diagnosis
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