Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare tumor. There are no clinical trials reported for patients with recurrent disease exclusively. Recommendations and outcomes of various treatments for these patients are included in many large case series [1,2,3][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiii] and one phase II clinical trial.[Level of evidence: 3iiiA] Treatments are usually individualized based on patient preference and the specifics of each case, and there are no standard options. Consideration should be given to enrollment in clinical trials.
Cartilage is a type of tough, flexible connective tissue (see Question 1).
Cartilage from cows (bovine cartilage) and sharks has been studied as a treatment for people with cancer and other medical conditions for more than 30 years (see Question 2).
Laboratory and animal studies have looked at whether bovine and shark cartilage products can kill cancer cells, make the immune system more active against cancer, and prevent the body from making the new blood vessels that a tumor needs to grow...
Treatment options for patients with local recurrence include wider local surgery if possible, followed by radiation if not previously given.
Regional lymph node dissection (RLND) can also be considered if regional draining nodes have not been previously removed.
Given the poor prognosis after recurrence, consideration can also be given to systemic chemotherapy, although there is no evidence that it improves survival.
Treatment options for patients with only regional nodal recurrence include RLND and adjuvant radiation therapy if the regional draining nodes have not been previously treated. Given the poor prognosis after recurrence, consideration can also be given to systemic chemotherapy, although there is no evidence that it improves survival.
For patients with distant recurrence only, chemotherapy is an option for patients who have good performance status.[1,2,3,4,5,6][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiii] Although responses with chemotherapy have been reported in selected patients with locally advanced and metastatic disease, toxicity has been significant and without clear benefit, particularly in older patients. When appropriate, radiation therapy and/or surgery may be offered as palliation to sites of recurrence, particularly if chemotherapy is not considered an option.
Current Clinical Trials
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
Henness S, Vereecken P: Management of Merkel tumours: an evidence-based review. Curr Opin Oncol 20 (3): 280-6, 2008.
Voog E, Biron P, Martin JP, et al.: Chemotherapy for patients with locally advanced or metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma. Cancer 85 (12): 2589-95, 1999.
Poulsen M, Rischin D, Walpole E, et al.: High-risk Merkel cell carcinoma of the skin treated with synchronous carboplatin/etoposide and radiation: a Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group Study--TROG 96:07. J Clin Oncol 21 (23): 4371-6, 2003.
Eng TY, Boersma MG, Fuller CD, et al.: A comprehensive review of the treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma. Am J Clin Oncol 30 (6): 624-36, 2007.
Tai PT, Yu E, Winquist E, et al.: Chemotherapy in neuroendocrine/Merkel cell carcinoma of the skin: case series and review of 204 cases. J Clin Oncol 18 (12): 2493-9, 2000.
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September 04, 2014
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