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.
The Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV), discovered in 2008, drives the development of most Merkel cell carcinomas (MCCs) through several canonical mechanisms. A glaring gap in our knowledge remains the basis by which MCPyV, among all 12 human polyomaviruses, is the only one that causes cancer in humans. Moreover, initial attempts by numerous groups have failed to reproduce MCC in mice using oncoproteins from this polyomavirus. Verhaegen et al. report MCPyV small T-antigen-expressing transgenic mice that now provide insight into in vivo transformation mechanisms.