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J Skin Cancer. 2012;2012:563829. doi: 10.1155/2012/563829. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

A review of radiotherapy for merkel cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

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  • 1Odette Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Abstract

Merkel cell carcinoma of the head and neck (MCCHN) presents a clinical challenge due to its aggressive natural history, unpredictable lymphatic drainage, and high degree of treatment related morbidity. Histological examination of the regional lymph nodes is very important in determining the optimal treatment and is usually achieved by sentinel lymph node biopsy. Radiotherapy plays a critical role in the treatment of most patients with MCCHN. Surgery with adjuvant radiotherapy to the primary tumour site is associated with high local control rates. If lymph nodes are clinically or microscopically positive, adjuvant radiotherapy is indicated to decrease the risk of regional recurrence. The majority of locoregional recurrences occur at the edge or just outside of the radiation field, reflecting both the inherent radiosensitivity of MCC and the importance of relatively large volumes to include "in-transit" dermal lymphatic pathways. When surgical excision of the primary or nodal disease is not feasible, primary radiotherapy alone should be considered as a potentially curative modality and confers good loco-regional control. Concurrent chemoradiotherapy is well tolerated and may further improve outcomes.

PMID:
23213534
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3508551
Free PMC Article
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