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Primary small cell carcinoma of the esophagus: clinicopathological study of 44 cases

Wei-Wei Chen1, Feng Wang1, Dong-Sheng Zhang1, Hui-Yan Luo1, Zhi-Qiang Wang1, Feng-Hua Wang1, Miao-Zhen Qiu1, Chao Ren1, Xiao-Li Wei1, Wen-Jing Wu1, Yu-Hong Li1 and Rui-Hua Xu2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Oncology and State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, Guangzhou, China

2 Department of Medical Oncology, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, 651 Dong Feng Road East, Guangzhou 510060, China

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:222  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-222

Published: 25 March 2014



Primary small cell carcinoma of the esophagus (SCCE) is a highly aggressive disease characterized by early dissemination and poor prognosis. Because of the rarity of this disease, few previous studies have investigated the biomarkers associated with its prognosis. Leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein coupled receptor 5 (Lgr5) is a stem cell marker and a member of the canonical Wnt-signaling cascade. However, the clinical role of Lgr5 in SCCE remains unknown.


Tissue sections were obtained from 44 patients diagnosed with SCCE and expression of Lgr5 was examined by immunohistochemistry. The correlations between Lgr5 expression, and clinical parameters and prognostic significance were evaluated.


Lgr5 was expressed in SCCE cancer tissues. High Lgr5 expression was significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis (p = 0.003), late stage (p = 0.003) and unfavorable response to chemotherapy (p = 0.013) according to RECIST 1.0 criteria. Patients with higher Lgr5 expression levels had shorter overall survival times than those with lower expression levels.


These results demonstrated that overexpression of Lgr5 was significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis, tumor stage, and response to chemotherapy. Furthermore, high levels of Lgr5 expression appeared to be associated with poorer survival in patients with SCCE.

Small cell carcinoma; Esophagus; Prognosis; Lgr5