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    Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview


    In one series of 237 patients presenting with local or regional disease, the median time-to-recurrence was 9 months (range, 2 months-70 months). Ninety-one percent of recurrences occurred within 2 years of diagnosis.[4] It has been suggested that the intensity of follow-up can be gradually diminished after 2 to 3 years as the majority of recurrences are likely to have occurred in this time frame.[4]

    Current Clinical Trials

    Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with 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.


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    2. Medina-Franco H, Urist MM, Fiveash J, et al.: Multimodality treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma: case series and literature review of 1024 cases. Ann Surg Oncol 8 (3): 204-8, 2001.
    3. Nghiem P, James N: Merkel cell carcinoma. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, Katz SI, et al., eds.: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill , 2008, pp 1087-94.
    4. Allen PJ, Bowne WB, Jaques DP, et al.: Merkel cell carcinoma: prognosis and treatment of patients from a single institution. J Clin Oncol 23 (10): 2300-9, 2005.
    5. Goessling W, McKee PH, Mayer RJ: Merkel cell carcinoma. J Clin Oncol 20 (2): 588-98, 2002.
    6. Senchenkov A, Barnes SA, Moran SL: Predictors of survival and recurrence in the surgical treatment of merkel cell carcinoma of the extremities. J Surg Oncol 95 (3): 229-34, 2007.
    7. Nghiem P, McKee PH, Haynes HA: Merkel cell (cutaneous neuroendocrine) carcinoma. In: Sober AJ, Haluska FG, eds.: Skin Cancer. Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker Inc., 2001, pp 127-141.
    8. Boyer JD, Zitelli JA, Brodland DG, et al.: Local control of primary Merkel cell carcinoma: review of 45 cases treated with Mohs micrographic surgery with and without adjuvant radiation. J Am Acad Dermatol 47 (6): 885-92, 2002.
    9. Wilson LD, Gruber SB: Merkel cell carcinoma and the controversial role of adjuvant radiation therapy: clinical choices in the absence of statistical evidence. J Am Acad Dermatol 50 (3): 435-7; discussion 437-8, 2004.
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    11. 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.
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    13. Stokes JB, Graw KS, Dengel LT, et al.: Patients with Merkel cell carcinoma tumors < or = 1.0 cm in diameter are unlikely to harbor regional lymph node metastasis. J Clin Oncol 27 (23): 3772-7, 2009.
    14. Haag ML, Glass LF, Fenske NA: Merkel cell carcinoma. Diagnosis and treatment. Dermatol Surg 21 (8): 669-83, 1995.
    15. Ratner D, Nelson BR, Brown MD, et al.: Merkel cell carcinoma. J Am Acad Dermatol 29 (2 Pt 1): 143-56, 1993.
    16. Yiengpruksawan A, Coit DG, Thaler HT, et al.: Merkel cell carcinoma. Prognosis and management. Arch Surg 126 (12): 1514-9, 1991.
    17. Messina JL, Reintgen DS, Cruse CW, et al.: Selective lymphadenectomy in patients with Merkel cell (cutaneous neuroendocrine) carcinoma. Ann Surg Oncol 4 (5): 389-95, 1997 Jul-Aug.
    18. Hill AD, Brady MS, Coit DG: Intraoperative lymphatic mapping and sentinel lymph node biopsy for Merkel cell carcinoma. Br J Surg 86 (4): 518-21, 1999.
    19. Wasserberg N, Schachter J, Fenig E, et al.: Applicability of the sentinel node technique to Merkel cell carcinoma. Dermatol Surg 26 (2): 138-41, 2000.
    20. Rodrigues LK, Leong SP, Kashani-Sabet M, et al.: Early experience with sentinel lymph node mapping for Merkel cell carcinoma. J Am Acad Dermatol 45 (2): 303-8, 2001.
    21. Mehrany K, Otley CC, Weenig RH, et al.: A meta-analysis of the prognostic significance of sentinel lymph node status in Merkel cell carcinoma. Dermatol Surg 28 (2): 113-7; discussion 117, 2002.
    22. Schwartz JL, Griffith KA, Lowe L, et al.: Features predicting sentinel lymph node positivity in Merkel cell carcinoma. J Clin Oncol 29 (8): 1036-41, 2011.
    23. Fields RC, Busam KJ, Chou JF, et al.: Recurrence and survival in patients undergoing sentinel lymph node biopsy for merkel cell carcinoma: analysis of 153 patients from a single institution. Ann Surg Oncol 18 (9): 2529-37, 2011.
    24. Maza S, Trefzer U, Hofmann M, et al.: Impact of sentinel lymph node biopsy in patients with Merkel cell carcinoma: results of a prospective study and review of the literature. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 33 (4): 433-40, 2006.
    25. Goepfert H, Remmler D, Silva E, et al.: Merkel cell carcinoma (endocrine carcinoma of the skin) of the head and neck. Arch Otolaryngol 110 (11): 707-12, 1984.
    26. Lewis KG, Weinstock MA, Weaver AL, et al.: Adjuvant local irradiation for Merkel cell carcinoma. Arch Dermatol 142 (6): 693-700, 2006.
    27. Veness MJ, Perera L, McCourt J, et al.: Merkel cell carcinoma: improved outcome with adjuvant radiotherapy. ANZ J Surg 75 (5): 275-81, 2005.
    28. Jabbour J, Cumming R, Scolyer RA, et al.: Merkel cell carcinoma: assessing the effect of wide local excision, lymph node dissection, and radiotherapy on recurrence and survival in early-stage disease--results from a review of 82 consecutive cases diagnosed between 1992 and 2004. Ann Surg Oncol 14 (6): 1943-52, 2007.
    29. Veness M, Foote M, Gebski V, et al.: The role of radiotherapy alone in patients with merkel cell carcinoma: reporting the Australian experience of 43 patients. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 78 (3): 703-9, 2010.
    30. Meeuwissen JA, Bourne RG, Kearsley JH: The importance of postoperative radiation therapy in the treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 31 (2): 325-31, 1995.
    31. Marks ME, Kim RY, Salter MM: Radiotherapy as an adjunct in the management of Merkel cell carcinoma. Cancer 65 (1): 60-4, 1990.
    32. Mojica P, Smith D, Ellenhorn JD: Adjuvant radiation therapy is associated with improved survival in Merkel cell carcinoma of the skin. J Clin Oncol 25 (9): 1043-7, 2007.
    33. Housman DM, Decker RH, Wilson LD: Regarding adjuvant radiation therapy in merkel cell carcinoma: selection bias and its affect on overall survival. J Clin Oncol 25 (28): 4503-4; author reply 4504-5, 2007.
    34. Garneski KM, Nghiem P: Merkel cell carcinoma adjuvant therapy: current data support radiation but not chemotherapy. J Am Acad Dermatol 57 (1): 166-9, 2007.
    35. Foote M, Harvey J, Porceddu S, et al.: Effect of radiotherapy dose and volume on relapse in Merkel cell cancer of the skin. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 77 (3): 677-84, 2010.
    36. Fang LC, Lemos B, Douglas J, et al.: Radiation monotherapy as regional treatment for lymph node-positive Merkel cell carcinoma. Cancer 116 (7): 1783-90, 2010.
    37. 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.
    38. Henness S, Vereecken P: Management of Merkel tumours: an evidence-based review. Curr Opin Oncol 20 (3): 280-6, 2008.
    39. 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.
    40. Poulsen MG, Rischin D, Porter I, et al.: Does chemotherapy improve survival in high-risk stage I and II Merkel cell carcinoma of the skin? Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 64 (1): 114-9, 2006.
    41. Poulsen M, Walpole E, Harvey J, et al.: Weekly carboplatin reduces toxicity during synchronous chemoradiotherapy for Merkel cell carcinoma of skin. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 72 (4): 1070-4, 2008.
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    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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