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A rare bladder cancer - small cell carcinoma: review and update

Nabil Ismaili

Author Affiliations

Medical oncology, centre régional d'oncologie, Agadir, Morocco

Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2011, 6:75  doi:10.1186/1750-1172-6-75

Published: 13 November 2011


Small cell carcinoma of the bladder (SCCB) is rare, highly aggressive and diagnosed mainly at advanced stages. Hematuria is the main symptom of this malignancy. The origin of the disease is unknown; however the multipotent stem cell theory applies best to this case. Histology and immunohistochemistry shows a tumour which is indistinguishable from small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC). Coexistence of SCCB with other types of carcinoma is common. The staging system used is the TNM-staging of bladder transitional cell carcinoma. The treatment is extrapolated from that of SCLC. However, many patients with SCCB undergo radical resection which is rarely performed in SCLC. Patients with surgically resectable disease (< or = cT1-4aN0M0) should be managed with multimodal therapy associating chemotherapy, surgery and/or radiotherapy. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy using four chemotherapy cycles followed by radical cystectomy is the most effective therapeutic sequence. Patients with unresectable disease (> or = cT4bN+M+) should be managed with palliative chemotherapy based on neuroendocrine type regimens comprising a platinum drug (cisplatin in fit patients). The prognosis of the disease is poor mainly in the case of pure small cell carcinoma. Other research programs are needed to improve the outcome of SCCB.