Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare skin malignancy that is a paradigm cancer for solid tumor immunotherapy. MCCs associated with Merkel cell polyomavirus (virus-positive MCC [VP-MCC]) or chronic UV exposure (virus-negative MCC [VN-MCC]) are anti-PD(L)1 responsive, despite VP-MCC’s low mutational burden. This suggests that antigen quality, not merely mutation quantity, dictates immunotherapy responsiveness, and cell-based therapies targeting optimal antigens may be effective. Despite VP-MCC’s antigenic homogeneity, diverse T-cell infiltration patterns are observed, implying microenvironment plasticity and multifactorial contributions to immune recognition. Moreover, VP-MCC exemplifies how antitumor adaptive immunity can provide tumor burden biomarkers for early detection and disease monitoring.
Lahman MC, Paulson KG, Nghiem PT, Chapuis AG
J Invest Dermatol. 2021 Apr 13;S0022-202X(21)00999-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2020.12.037
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.