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Oncology. 2019;97(5):294-300. doi: 10.1159/000501521. Epub 2019 Aug 7.

Distribution of Neuroendocrine Marker-Positive Cells in Colorectal Cancer Tissue and Normal Mucosal Tissue: Consideration of Histogenesis of Neuroendocrine Cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Tokai University, School of Medicine, Isehara, Japan.
Department of Surgery, Tokai University, School of Medicine, Isehara, Japan,
Department of Pathology, Tokai University, School of Medicine, Isehara, Japan.



Colorectal neuroendocrine carcinoma (NEC) is a rare disease, and mixed cases with colorectal adenocarcinoma also exist. The histogenesis of this disease remains unclear. We studied the numbers of neuroendocrine marker-positive cells in adenocarcinoma tissue and in normal -mucosal tissue to investigate the relation between adenocarcinoma and NEC and to discuss the histogenesis of NEC.


We studied a total of 354 curatively resected cases of stage II or III colon cancer and 36 cases of rectal cancer treated at the Tokai University Hospital between 2007 and 2012. Adenocarcinoma tissue and normal mucosal tissue were immunohistochemically stained with chromogranin A, synaptophysin, and CD56. Cases in which neuroendocrine marker-positive cells were found in cancer tissue were defined as positive. In normal mucosa, the numbers of positive cells per 15 high-power fields (HPF) were counted.


Among the 390 cases, 181 cases had right sided colon cancer, 173 cases had left sided colon cancer, and 36 cases had rectal cancer. The rates of positive staining for chromogranin A, synaptophysin, and CD56 were significantly higher in the right sided colon than in the left sided colon, consistent with the preferred sites of NEC as reported previously. Cells positive for chromogranin A and synaptophysin in normal mucosa were significantly more common in the rectum and the left sided colon than in the right sided colon. No site-specific differences were found for CD56.


Neuroendocrine marker-positive cells in colorectal cancer tissue are more common in the right sided colon, whereas neuroendocrine marker-positive cells in normal mucosa are more common in the rectum. These results suggest that NEC may arise from preceding adenocarcinomas.


Colorectal adenocarcinoma; Neuroendocrine carcinoma; Neuroendocrine marker-positive cells; Neuroendocrine tumor

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