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Open Access Case report

Multiple scalp metastases from colonic neuroendocrine carcinoma: case report and literature review

Shao-min Wang, Meng Ye* and Shu-min Ni

Author Affiliations

Department of Medical Oncology, Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Ningbo University, No. 247 Renmin Road, Ningbo 315020, Zhejiang Province, China

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:305  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-305

Published: 1 May 2014

Abstract

Background

Colonic neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) are relatively rare tumors with an incidence rate of 0.11–0.21/100,000. NENs account for approximately 0.4% of colorectal neoplasms. Cutaneous metastases of colonic neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) are very infrequent, while cases of scalp metastasis are even fewer. Cutaneous metastases are more rare than visceral metastases and usually develop later; therefore, cutaneous metastases as initial distant metastases can be easily overlooked. This is the second case report of a colonic NEC with scalp metastasis. Compared with the previous case, in this instance scalp metastasis developed before visceral metastasis, and the cutaneous lesions were confined to the scalp alone.

Case presentation

A 62-year-old Chinese man, who had undergone radical surgery for a “locoregional” colonic NEC one and half months before, came to our hospital for adjuvant chemotherapy. We found multiple scalp nodules during physical examination. Moreover, these nodules had occurred and had not been detected prior to the patient undergoing radical surgery. The scalp nodules proved to be metastases from colonic NEC as determined using pathological and immunohistochemical examinations following lumpectomy. After one and half months, visceral metastases were detected in this patient. Ultimately, the patient died two months later.

Conclusions

In this report an unusual case of a colonic NEC with initial distant metastasis confined to the scalp is presented. This case is unusual because of the development of cutaneous metastasis before visceral metastasis. The scalp metastasis were initially overlooked, leading to inaccurate staging and radical surgery that was not curative. This demonstrates that distant metastasis can occur during the early phase of tumor growth in these aggressive lesions. Thus, the possibility of distant metastases should be assessed in the initial work up to avoid mistaken clinical staging especially when distant metastases occur only in skin.

Keywords:
Colon cancer; Neuroendocrine carcinoma; Scalp; Metastasis