The small cell carcinoma of hypercalcemic type of the ovary is a rare tumor seen mainly in young women. Its first description was recently published in 1982 by Dickersin et al. [1
]. Less than 250 cases have been reported in the literature [1
The average age of onset of these tumors is 24 years [3
]; our patient was 25 years old at diagnosis. The clinical signs are nonspecific: abdominal pain and/or abdominopelvic pain, abdominal distension, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and anorexia [1
In two-thirds of cases, this tumor is associated with hypercalcemia; our patient had a normal serum calcium.
The physiopathologie of hypercalcemia is unclear. In some cases it may be related to direct the secretion of PTH by tumor-RP (parathyroid hormone-related protein) detected by immunohistochemistry [4
The largest series, reported by Young, includes 150 patients with small cell carcinoma. This is most often a bilateral tumor of significant size between 6
cm and 26
cm, with an average of 15
]; in our case, the size of the mass was 24 × 18 × 15
cm. There is an extra ovarian abdominal dissemination in half of the cases. Indeed, Young reported that 50% of tumors were stage I FIGO classification, two-thirds are stage IA, and one-third are IC stage, while over 45% are diagnosed at FIGO stage III and only 5% are divided into stages II and IV [3
The histological diagnosis is problematic because of similarities with other ovarian tumors. 50% of cases are described next to the small cells, larger cells with large nuclei, and abundant cytoplasm [3
]. These large cells can sometimes be the main contingent and form a histological variant of small cell carcinoma.
The differential diagnosis is primarily with the tumor granulosa cell type but also with the juvenile cell tumor of the adult-type granulosa, lymphoma, small cell lung carcinoma, and metastases of melanoma [3
Its origin remains controversial: the original germ was described [6
], but the study by electron microscopy showed the presence of epithelial cells [7
]. Moreover, the absence of a specific immunohistochemical profile of this tumor is an independent entity. It can express the EMA, cytokeratin, vimentin, NSE, CD10, WT1, and p53.
A single case of small cell carcinoma of the ovary expressing CD34 has been described in the literature [8
]. Currently there is no consensus for the treatment of small cell carcinoma of the ovary. Although at the early stage of the disease, where the tumor is unilateral, radical surgery with removal of the uterus is recommended. But, it is considered desirable to preserve the fertility of these young patients. Therefore, the conservative surgical treatment sparing the ovary and uterus could be seen in the early stages [9
However, despite the poor prognosis of patients with advanced small cell carcinoma of hypercalcemic type of ovarian cancer, an aggressive approach with radical resection followed by chemotherapy is widely applied [10
Patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy had better survival in FIGO stage IA compared with those who had only surgical treatment [11
Several protocols have been used including those used in the treatment of malignant epithelial tumors of the ovary: CP, CAP, AMP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin with or without Cisplatin, and hexamethylmelamine), but none of these protocols have proved effective [8
]. The same limited effect was observed with paclitaxel in combination with Cisplatin with advanced disease by analogy to other epithelial tumors of the ovary [14
Moreover, the best result was obtained with BVP and BEP (Cisplatin, Vinblastine, or Bleomycin with Etoposide) used in the treatment of germ cell tumors [15
] justifying the use of this protocol in our patient.
In case of stage III disease, improved efficiency was observed using a scheme consisting of postoperative chemotherapy-based BEP followed by consolidation chemotherapy consisting of the following products: Vincristine, Actinomycin, and Cyclophosphamide [3
In the literature, most patients who had a better survival had received radiotherapy after or concurrent with chemotherapy: radiotherapy of any abdominal or pelvic radiotherapy and para-aortic [1
In the study of Harrison et al. [15
], five of seven patients received radiotherapy after or simultaneously with chemotherapy survived longer. However, due to the small number of patients, the additional benefits of radiotherapy, in terms of survival, remain to be established. Young et al. [3
] reported that good prognostic factors are the localized stage of tumor, being smaller than 10
cm, and the patient age above 30 years. Tumors without large contingent of cells are also associated with a significantly higher survival. For cons, the presence of hypercalcemia preoperatively is a pejorative criterion [3
The small cell carcinoma of hypercalcemic type of the ovary is a very aggressive tumor with a poor prognosis. The overall survival rate is about 10% and reaches 30% when the tumor is stage IA [16
]. In the series of Young, a better survival (1 to 13 years) for stage IA and for patients who had undergone radical surgery was reported.
The cases we report describe a tumor larger than 10
cm in a young woman whose age is less than 30 years, with continued early evolutionary changes rapidly explained to be fatal.