Neuroendocrine prostate tumors: histologic features and therapy
Neuroendocrine (NE) tumors of the prostate are rare tumors, that can arise de novo but much more commonly occur after androgen deprivation therapy for prostate adenocarcinoma. NE tumors of the prostate are classified into: adenocarcinoma with NE differentiation, well-differentiated NE tumor/carcinoid, small-cell NE carcinoma, large cell NE carcinoma, adenocarcinoma with Paneth cell NE differentiation and mixed NE carcinoma—acinar adenocarcinoma. IHC plays a vital role and should be approached at two levels. For the issue of confirming NE differentiation, markers for NE differentiation include synaptophysin, chromogranin, and CD56. If there is any uncertainty about the histogenesis, that is, whether a tumor is primary to the prostate, markers for prostatic lineage—PSA, PSAP, PSMA, prostein (p501s), NKX3.1, ERG (by IHC or FISH)—may be used. Actually, platinum-based chemotherapy is commonly administered to patients with pure small cell carcinoma based on small cell lung cancer (SCLC) data and the accumulating data for aggressive variants of castration-resistant prostate cancer (AVPC). This may consist of a combination of carboplatin (or sometimes cisplatin) plus either etoposide (based on SCLC) or a taxane (especially if mixed histology or AVPC features). A combination regimen of cisplatin, etoposide, and doxorubicin has been also investigated but the benefit-risk ratio of the three-drug combination was considered unfavorable. Unfortunately, platinum-based chemotherapy often presents high toxicity and a short overall survival. Results of currently ongoing preclinical and clinical studies are expected to enhance our understanding of these tumors’ underlying biology and guide our efforts toward the development of personalized medicine through targeted diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
Keywords: Prostate cancer, neuroendocrine disease, histologic differentiation, systemic therapies