Intratumoral CD8+ lymphocytes (IT-CD8s) have shown promise as a prognostic indicator for Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). We tested whether IT-CD8s predict survival among a population-based MCC cohort.
One hundred thirty-seven MCC cases that had not previously been analyzed for IT-CD8s were studied.
Three-year MCC-specific survival rates were 56%, 72%, and 100% for patients with absent (n = 46), low (n = 85), and moderate or strong (n = 6) IT-CD8s, respectively. Increased IT-CD8s were associated with improved MCC-specific survival in a multivariate competing risk-regression analysis including stage, age, and sex (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.3-0.9). Although a similar trend was observed for overall survival, statistical significance was not reached (HR = 0.8; 95% CI = 0.6-1.0), likely because of the high rate of non-MCC deaths among older patients.
This study of prospectively captured MCC cases supports the concept that cellular immuni