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Endocr J. 2010;57(1):31-8. Epub 2009 Oct 16.

Small-cell carcinoma of the endometrium presenting as Cushing's syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Tokai University School of Medicine, Kanagawa, Japan. hrhrsato@is.icc.u-tokai.ac.jp


Small-cell carcinoma (SCC) of neuroendocrine type is an uncommon tumor of the endometrium. No previous report has documented Cushing's syndrome due to ectopic ACTH production by SCC of the endometrium. We describe a 56-year-old Japanese woman with SCC of the endometrium and multiple lung metastases presenting as Cushing's syndrome. The patient was referred to our hospital because of general fatigue with facial and leg edema, and multiple nodular lesions in the bilateral lungs on chest X-ray examination. A physical examination revealed that the patient had moon face, buffalo hump, and truncal obesity. Endocrinological examinations confirmed ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome. Thoracic computed tomography imaging showed multiple nodular lesions in the bilateral lungs. Abdominal magnetic resonance imaging suggested a malignant tumor of the uterus. The patient received a lung tumor biopsy and surgical hysterectomy. The endometrial carcinoma was histologically a SCC admixed with endometrioid adenocarcinoma. The SCC of the endometrium showed immunoreactivity for pro-opiomelanocortin, ACTH, and vimentin, but not for thyroid transcription factor-1. The lung biopsy specimen had the same features. These findings indicated that the SCC originated from the endometrium, and the ectopic ACTH-producing tumor caused Cushing's syndrome. This study provides the evidence that SCC of endometrial origin was an ectopic ACTH-producing tumor causing Cushing's syndrome.

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