WITH A MORTALITY rate of roughly 25%, Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is significantly more dangerous than melanoma (roughly 15% mortality). Although precise numbers do not exist, its incidence of approximately 400 cases per year in the United States1,2 is likely to be on the rise.3 Factors that are likely contributing to this include the aging population (mean age of MCC onset is about 70 years), greater numbers of immunocompromised organ transplant recipients (a greater incidence and severity of MCC in this population over the general public has been reported4), and, of course, the increased sun exposure habits of the past few decades. Despite a great need for the best possible care for patients with this dangerous malignancy, significant confusion persists in the literature regarding optimal management of MCC.
Longo MI, Nghiem P. Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment With RadiationA Good Case Despite No Prospective Studies. Arch Dermatol. 2003;139(12):1641-1643. doi:10.1001/archderm.139.12.1641