Classification of low-grade neuroendocrine tumors of midgut and unknown origin

Susanne Van Eeden, Pascal F H J Quaedvlieg, Babs G. Taal, G. Johan A Offerhaus, Cornelis B H W Lamers, Marie Louise F Van Velthuysen

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78 Scopus citations


Metastasized neuroendocrine tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and of unknown origin show a highly variable clinical course. Within this group, low-grade and high-grade malignant tumors can be recognized based on the revised classification of neuroendocrine tumors of the lung, pancreas, and gut published by Capella et al in 1995. The present study investigated whether fine-tuning the prediction of prognosis was possible by dividing the group of low-grade malignant tumors of the midgut and of unknown origin into typical and atypical carcinoids by grading them according to the World Health Organization (WHO) classification criteria for neuroendocrine tumors of the lung. Moreover, the prognostic value of immunohistochemical stainings and clinical parameters was evaluated. The study group comprised patients diagnosed between 1983 and 1999 with liver metastases of a neuroendocrine tumor of the midgut (n = 40) or of unknown origin (n = 16). As a control for the consistency of grading, 10 patients with metastasized neuroendocrine tumors of the lung also were evaluated. Immunohistochemical stainings for chromogranin A, synaptophysin, Leu 7/CD57, neural cell adhesion molecule/CD56, cytokeratin 8, bcl-2, p53, ki67, and HER2/neu were performed. The clinical parameters age, gender, urinary 5-HIAA level, and presence or absence of the carcinoid syndrome were evaluated. Tumors of the midgut and of unknown origin were evaluated together, because they were clinically similar. In this group of 56 patients, both the Capella and the WHO classification systems recognized the high-grade malignant tumors with a bad prognosis. When the low-grade malignant tumors (Capella) were divided into typical and atypical carcinoids (WHO), no difference in survival was observed, but when the dichotomy into typical and atypical was based on mitotic count alone, the difference became borderline significant (P = .072). Of the immunohistochemical stainings used, synaptophysin, cytokeratin 8, and ki67 had limited prognostic value. Age above 60 was the only clinical parameter of unfavorable prognostic significance. We conclude that high-grade malignant neuroendocrine tumors of the midgut and of unknown origin are recognized by both the Capella classification and the WHO classification of neuroendocrine tumors of the lung. Further subdividing low-grade malignant tumors at this location appears to be of less value than in the lung, but assessing the mitotic activity of these tumors might be of prognostic value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1126-1132
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Classification
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mitotic activity
  • Neuroendocrine tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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