Small-cell carcinomas of the bladder and lung are characterized by a convergent but distinct pathogenesis

Matthew T. Chang, Alexander Penson, Neil B. Desai, Nicholas D. Socci, Ronglai Shen, Venkatraman E. Seshan, Ritika Kundra, Adam Abeshouse, Agnes Viale, Eugene K. Cha, Xueli Hao, Victor E. Reuter, Charles M. Rudin, Bernard H. Bochner, Jonathan E. Rosenberg, Dean F. Bajorin, Nikolaus Schultz, Michael F. Berger, Gopa Iyer, David B. SolitHikmat A. Al-Ahmadie, Barry S. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Purpose: Small-cell carcinoma of the bladder (SCCB) is a rare and aggressive neuroendocrine tumor with a dismal prognosis and limited treatment options. As SCCB is histologically indistinguishable from small-cell lung cancer, a shared pathogenesis and cell of origin has been proposed. The aim of this study is to determine whether SCCBs arise from a preexisting urothelial carcinoma or share a molecular pathogenesis in common with small-cell lung cancer. Experimental Design: We performed an integrative analysis of 61 SCCB tumors to identify histology- and organ-specific similarities and differences. Results: SCCB has a high somatic mutational burden driven predominantly by an APOBEC-mediated mutational process. TP53, RB1, and TERT promoter mutations were present in nearly all samples. Although these events appeared to arise early in all affected tumors and likely reflect an evolutionary branch point that may have driven small-cell lineage differentiation, they were unlikely the founding transforming event, as they were often preceded by diverse and less common driver mutations, many of which are common in bladder urothelial cancers, but not small-cell lung tumors. Most patient tumors (72%) also underwent genome doubling (GD). Although arising at different chronologic points in the evolution of the disease, GD was often preceded by biallelic mutations in TP53 with retention of two intact copies. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that small-cell cancers of the bladder and lung have a convergent but distinct pathogenesis, with SCCBs arising from a cell of origin shared with urothelial bladder cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1965-1973
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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