Small Cell / Large Cell Cervical Cancer

Small and Large Cell Cervical Cancer

Small cell cervical cancer (SCCC) and large cell cervical cancer (LCCC) make up a rare subtype of cervical cancer. They are aggressive forms of a larger group of tumors called neuroendocrine cancers. These cancers occur in the hormone-producing cells of the body’s neuroendocrine system, which is composed of cells that are a cross between endocrine (hormone-producing) cells and nerve cells.

Of the 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, approximately 100 cases will be small cell or large cell cervical cancer. Unlike other types of cervical cancer, SCCC and LCCC have no definitive link to the human papilloma virus (HPV). Because these tumors are so rare, the cause is not yet fully understood.

Small cell and large cell cervical cancers are the most common type of neuroendocrine tumor in the cervix, but still accounts for less than 1% of all cervical cancers.

Symptoms of Small and Large Cell Cervical Cancer

While many people with SCCC/LCCC experience no warning signs, some symptoms may include:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse


Most cases of SCCC/LCCC are diagnosed because of symptoms, or a gynecologist notices an abnormality on the cervix during a physical exam and performs a biopsy.

Small and large cell cervical tumors can be detected with a Pap smear, but many women with this disease can have normal Pap smears before the tumor is detected. Since these cancers do not have a known premalignant state, Pap tests are an imperfect diagnostic method.

MD Anderson Center