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Small cell rectal cancer: a therapeutic challenge
  1. Alex Fitzhugh1,
  2. Alison Corr1,
  3. Arshi Denton2 and
  4. Anthony Antoniou3
  1. 1Department of Inherited Intestinal Cancer Syndromes, St Mark's Hospital and Academic Institute, Harrow, UK
  2. 2Department of Oncology, Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, UK
  3. 3Department of Surgery, St Mark's Hospital Foundation, Harrow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alison Corr; alicorr12{at}


A generally well 71-year-old man presented to his general practitioner with altered bowel habit and haematochezia. Colonoscopy revealed a malignant-appearing rectal mass, with histological features of extrapulmonary small cell carcinoma (EPSCC) of the rectum. Imaging demonstrated limited stage disease with a threatened circumferential resection margin. He was treated with a modified platinum chemoradiotherapy regimen for small cell lung cancer with an excellent response. Unfortunately, his cardiac function precluded surgery at the time and the patient subsequently developed hepatic metastases with local disease recurrence, and died 15 months following his initial diagnosis. Rectal EPSCC is a rare diagnosis, and this case represented a challenge for the multidisciplinary team given the limited evidence base. Medical therapy reflects extrapolation of small cell lung cancer treatment and the role of surgery is less clearly defined given aggressive and refractory disease is common. Immunotherapy, however, represents an exciting development for metastatic disease.

  • Colon cancer
  • Radiology
  • Endoscopy
  • Immunological products and vaccines

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  • Contributors AF gathered patient notes, documented clinical and radiological course and composed the case report. AC reported the original imaging, monitored the patient progress in real time and edited the report. AD managed the oncological treatments for the patient and edited the case report. AA managed the case from a surgical perspective.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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