Merkel Cell Carcinoma: Important Aspects of Diagnosis and Management

Linjawi, Ayman; Jamison, W. Bruce; Meterissian, Sarkis
October 2001
American Surgeon;Oct2001, Vol. 67 Issue 10, p943
Academic Journal
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a highly aggressive primary neuroendocrine tumor. It is suggested in the literature that postoperative radiotherapy may decrease local recurrence and improve overall survival. The purpose of this retrospective review was to determine our experience and review the literature on this aggressive malignancy. Charts of ten patients with MCC seen between 1985 and 1997 were reviewed to obtain clinicopathological data. Eight patients were male with a mean age of 72 years (range 49-90). The head and neck was the most common site, affecting 50 per cent of patients. All patients had primary excisions with documented negative margins. Pathological size ranged from 10 to 40 mm. Initial pathological diagnosis was lymphoma in three cases requiring immunohistochemistry for cytokeratin and neuron-specific enolase for definitive diagnosis. Lymphatic invasion was noted in three patients but only one of these patients had clinical lymph node involvement. The mean follow-up was 54 months (range 6-114) with an 80 per cent one-year survival and 30 per cent 2-year survival. Postoperative radiotherapy was administered to five patients. Of these three died with evidence of both local and distant recurrence. This small retrospective review highlights important points in the management of MCC including pathological diagnosis and benefits of adjuvant radiation therapy.


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