Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a neuroendocrine skin cancer with a rising incidence (1500 U.S. cases per year) that now exceeds that of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and a mortality (33%) exceeding that of melanoma. Despite this impact, little is known about its biology. Recent studies have shown that Ras/MAP kinase activity is absent and possibly detrimental to this cancer. This makes MCC distinct from other UV–induced skin cancers and highlights the question of what drives this malignancy.
Merkel cell carcinoma can be indolent: A case with 7 locoregional recurrences over 15 years highlights the importance of patient-tailored management
Patients who experience a recurrence of their Merkel cell carcinoma are often treated aggressively. We report a case of a man with an unusually long course of MCC over 15 years who had his MCC recur around his face or neck 7 times before eventually developing distant spread. Because he had 4 major medical problems at the time his MCC initially appeared, less aggressive therapies were chosen for his recurrences, and there was no evidence of disease for the vast majority of his 15-year course, during which he enjoyed excellent quality of life. This case emphasizes the importance of customizing care in MCC to give patients the best quality and quantity of life possible in their particular situation.