Composite hepatocellular carcinoma and small cell carcinoma with early nodal metastasis: A case report

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is known to grow in a mosaic pattern, and it can sometimes be combined with non-hepatocellular cells. Despites the variety of combination, HCC with a significant neuroendocrine carcinoma (NEC) component remains very rare. Most of the reported cases were treated as conventional HCC with a relatively poor prognosis. Early diagnosis may lead to a better treatment modality. Here, we report a case of composite HCC and small cell carcinoma (SCC) with nodal metastasis of the SCC component alone.

Patient concerns:

A 65-year-old man with chronic viral hepatitis C presented with abdominal discomfort for 2 months. Computed tomography and angiography of the liver showed a 4.3 cm hypervascular tumor in segment 4 and enlargement of the perihilar and paracaval lymph nodes.


Extended left lobectomy and regional lymph node dissection were performed.


The hepatic tumor was heterogeneous with two distinct gross components. The green part showed a grade III hepatocellular carcinoma with an immunoreaction to Hep Par 1, glypican 3 and α-fetoprotein, whereas the white part exhibited a small cell carcinoma, as evidenced by expressions of chromogranin A and synaptophysin. The lymph node was metastasized by the SCC component. The SCC part was also positive for vimentin with perivascular accentuation. ß-catenin immunostain showed reduced membranous expression in the SCC component, as compared to HCC.


The patient expired 39 days after the surgical intervention.


Clinicians should be highly alert to a composite hepatic tumor, especially in dealing with a small heterogeneous tumor (< 5 cm) with early lymph node metastasis.

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