Small cell carcinoma of the cervix in liquid-based Pap test: Utilization of split-sample immunocytochemical and molecular analysis

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Small cell (neuroendocrine) carcinoma of the uterine cervix (SMCC) is a rare, highly aggressive malignant neoplasm. Both conventional and liquid-based cytology (LBC) cervical smears have low sensitivity in diagnosing SMCC, requiring immunocytochemical (ICH) confirmation. We present the first series of SMCC primarily diagnosed in cytology specimens, and ICH studies performed on the residual LBC specimens with subsequent confirmation of the diagnosis on surgical pathology specimens. Immunocytochemical stains for keratin, p16INK4, and neuroendocrine markers (synaptophysin, chromogranin, CD56) were performed on additional ThinPrep slides. HPV test used chromogenic in situ hybridization high risk HPV DNA probe. The Pap smears in all three specimens were highly cellular with a mixture of squamous cells and numerous well-preserved single or small cohesive clusters of malignant epithelial cells. Tumor cells were small, monomorphic with minimal cytoplasm and high nuclear/cytoplasmic ratio. There was significant nuclear overlap, but no nuclear molding, or smudging of nuclear chromatin. The chromatin pattern was stippled. A background tumor diathesis was prominent. Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS) were noted in one case, and markedly abnormal squamous cells were seen in another case. The main cytology differential diagnoses included high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion and an endometrial adenocarcinoma. Immunocytochemical positivity for the neuroendocrine markers supported the diagnoses of SMCC in all three cases. The morphologic features of the concurrent surgical pathology specimens were typical of SMCC. The tissue diagnoses were also confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Our study allows us to conclude that SMCC can be primarily diagnosed in LBC specimens using a panel of immunocytochemical stains. Diagn. Cytopathol. 2012. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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