Clinical features of neuroendocrine prostate cancer

Vincenza Conteduca, Clara Oromendia, Kenneth W. Eng, Rohan Bareja, Michael Sigouros, Ana Molina, Bishoy M. Faltas, Andrea Sboner, Juan Miguel Mosquera, Olivier Elemento, David M. Nanus, Scott T. Tagawa, Karla V. Ballman, Himisha Beltran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) is an aggressive variant of prostate cancer that may arise de novo or in patients previously treated with hormonal therapies for prostate adenocarcinoma as a mechanism of resistance. Despite being important to recognise, the clinical features of NEPC are poorly defined and could help guide when to perform a biopsy to look for NEPC histologic transformation. Methods: We reviewed baseline, treatment and outcome data of 87 patients with metastatic prostate cancer and tumour biopsy confirming NEPC histology. Forty-seven (54.0%) NEPC cases presented de novo, and 40 (46.0%) were therapy-related (t-NEPC). Thirty-six (41.4%) were classified as pure small-cell carcinoma, and 51 (58.6%) demonstrated mixed features with both small-cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma present. Genomic data were available for 47 patients. Results: The median age at time of NEPC was 68.1 years, median prostate-specific antigen (PSA) was 1.20 ng/ml (0.14 ng/mL small-cell carcinoma, 1.55 ng/mL mixed carcinoma) and sites of metastases included bone (72.6%), lymph node (47.0%), and viscera (65.5%). Median time from adenocarcinoma to t-NEPC diagnosis was 39.7 months (range, 24.5–93.8) with a median of two lines of prior systemic therapy. Platinum chemotherapy was used to treat 57.5% of patients, with a median progression-free survival of 3.9 months. Small-cell carcinoma was associated with worse overall survival (OS) than mixed histology (8.9 months from NEPC diagnosis versus 26.1 months, P < 0.001). Median OS of de novo NEPC was shorter than that of t-NEPC (16.8 months from prostate cancer diagnosis versus 53.5 months, P = 0.043). An average PSA rise per month of ≤0.7 ng/ml before t-NEPC; elevated lactate dehydrogenase levels, RB1 and TP53 loss and liver metastases were poor prognostic features. Conclusions: We describe the clinical features of a cohort of patients with NEPC. These characteristics may inform future diagnostic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-18
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Aggressive variant
  • Neuroendocrine prostate cancer
  • Small-cell carcinoma
  • Treatment resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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