BACKGROUND: Small cell carcinoma (SCC) of the urinary bladder accounts for 0.35-0.70% of all bladder tumors. There is no standard approach to the management of SCC of the urinary bladder. METHODS: The authors performed a retrospective study at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) to characterize the clinical and pathologic features of patients with SCC of the urinary bladder diagnosed between 1975 and 2003 with emphasis on management. RESULTS: Forty-four patients were identified who had primary bladder SCC, 61.4% of whom had pure SCC. The male:female ratio was 3:1, the mean age was 66.9 years, and the mean follow-up was 3.2 years. Twelve patients (27.3%) had Stage II disease, 13 patients (29.6%) had Stage III disease, and 19 patients (43.2%) had Stage IV disease. The overall median survival was 1.7 years. The 5-year survival rates for patients with Stage II, III, and IV disease were 63.6%, 15.4%, and 10.5%, respectively. Six of eight patients with Stage II bladder SCC achieved a cure with radical cystectomy. Five patients with Stage IV disease had obvious metastases and received chemotherapy. Fourteen patients underwent radical cystectomy and were diagnosed later with locally advanced disease (T4b) or lymph node metastasis (N1-N3; Stage IV disease). Only 2 of 19 patients with Stage IV disease who received adjuvant chemotherapy were alive at 5 years. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with bladder SCC should undergo radical cystectomy except when metastatic disease is present (M1), in which case, systemic chemotherapy is indicated. Adjuvant treatment is not indicated for patients with Stage II disease after radical cystectomy but should be considered for patients with Stage III and IV disease. Chemotherapy should be a platinum-based regimen.
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