Extra-pulmonary poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma is rare, and evidence for treatment has been limited. In this article, the evidence behind the cytotoxic chemotherapy choices used for metastatic or unresectable EP-PD-NEC is reviewed. In the first-line setting, etoposide and platinum chemotherapy or irinotecan and platinum have been demonstrated to be equivalent in a large phase III trial. Questions remain regarding the optimal number of cycles, mode of delivery, and the precise definition of platinum resistance in this setting. In the second-line setting, FOLFIRI has emerged as an option, with randomized phase 2 trials demonstrating modest, but significant, response rates. Beyond this, data are extremely limited, and several regimens have been used. Heterogeneity in biological behaviour is a major barrier to optimal EP-PD-NEC management. Available data support the potential role of the Ki-67 index as a predictive biomarker for chemotherapy response. A more personalised approach to management in future studies will be essential, and comprehensive multi-omic approaches are required to understand tumour somatic genetic changes in relation to their effects on the surrounding microenvironment.
- neuroendocrine carcinoma
- poorly differentiated