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Curr Opin Oncol. 2012 Sep;24(5):572-9. doi: 10.1097/CCO.0b013e3283565ed6.

The management of small-cell carcinomas of the gynecologic tract.

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  • 1Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cedars-Sinai Women's Cancer Research Institute, Los Angeles, California, USA.



Small-cell carcinomas of the gynecologic tract are aggressive malignancies that can be misdiagnosed or inappropriately managed. This review provides a summary of current literature that will help the clinician to correctly diagnose and treat patients with small-cell carcinomas of the cervix, ovary, uterus, vagina, and vulva.


Small-cell carcinomas of gynecologic sites are rare and carry a poor prognosis. Stage is an important prognostic factor in small-cell carcinoma of the cervix, uterus, and ovary. Early stage disease has varied treatment approaches based on the site of malignancy, but systemic chemotherapy with or without radiation plays a role in the adjuvant setting to mitigate the risk of recurrence. Advanced stage patients require treatment with chemotherapy and possibly radiation, usually in a manner analogous to small-cell lung cancer. The preferred chemotherapy regimen contains a platinum agent and etoposide. For small-cell ovarian carcinomas, it is important to differentiate those of the hypercalcemic type from those of the pulmonary type. The small-cell carcinomas of the vagina and vulva need to be distinguished from Merkel cell cancers.


The majority of small-cell tumors of the gynecologic tract will require systemic chemotherapy with a platinum agent and etoposide, both in the setting of early and advanced stage disease. Prospective trials with new chemotherapy or targeted agents are needed to improve the treatment of this aggressive cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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