Open Access Research

Neuroendocrine differentiation and neuroendocrine morphology as two different patterns in large-cell bronchial carcinomas: outcome after complete resection

Wolfgang Jungraithmayr1*, Gian Kayser2, Bernward Passlick1 and Stephan Eggeling1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Thoracic Surgery, University Hospital Freiburg, Hugstetter Str. 55, 79106 Freiburg, Germany

2 Department of Pathology, University Hospital Freiburg, Breisacher Str. 115a, 79106 Freiburg, Germany

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World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2006, 4:61  doi:10.1186/1477-7819-4-61

Published: 5 September 2006



In 1999, large-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of the lung was introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a new tumor entity in the group of non-small cell, epithelial tumors, a differentiated classification of neuroendocrine tumors of the lung not existing until this time. Scientific knowledge on prognosis and therapy of these tumors, especially between those with neuroendocrine morphology only and those showing additional expression of neuroendocrine markers, is fragmentary. In this analysis, we studied the clinical behavior and the prognosis of these two rare tumor entities.

Patients and Methods

The analysis comprises 12 patients of a total of 2053, who underwent thoracotomy for non small-cell lung carcinoma between 1997 and 2005 in the Department of Thoracic Surgery at the University Hospital of Freiburg. Clinical data, pathological examinations as well as complete follow-up were reviewed from large-cell carcinoma with neuroendocrine morphology only (n=4) and from large-cell carcinoma expressing neuroendocrine markers (n=8).


The median survival of patients with neuroendocrine morphology was 30 months (11–96 months). In the patient group showing the expression of neuroendocrine markers, the median survival time was 20 months (2–26 months). Tumor recurrences occurred in the group with neuroendocrine morphology, without exception, in the form of distant metastases and in the group with neuroendocrine markers as intrapulmonary metastases.


Large-cell neuroendocrine carcinomas of the lung show aggressive behavior with a poor prognosis. Expression of neuroendocrine markers markedly reduce tumor-free interval as well as survival and might influence the site of metastases.