Our team based in Seattle conducted a comprehensive review including evolving trends in the management of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). This summary covers key decision points, including recommended work-up during initial diagnosis, treatment options for MCC when it’s in one place or has spread, management of recurrent MCC, and new treatments that are showing promise with fewer side effects and good results. This review gives valuable information on how to handle MCC overall and emphasizes new methods that are effective and less toxic on patients.
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a highly aggressive, often lethal neuroendocrine cancer. Its carcinogenesis may be either caused by the clonal integration of the Merkel cell polyomavirus into the host genome or by UV-induced mutations. Notably, virally-encoded oncoproteins and UV-induced mutations affect comparable signaling pathways such as RB restriction of cell cycle progression or p53 inactivation. Despite its low incidence, MCC recently received much attention based on its exquisite immunogenicity and the resulting major success of immune modulating therapies. Here, we summarize current knowledge on epidemiology, biology and therapy of MCC as conclusion of the project ‘Immune Modulating strategies for treatment of Merkel Cell Carcinoma’, which was funded over a 5-year period by the European Commission to investigate innovative immunotherapies for MCC.