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 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.