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J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Sep;25(3):331-7.

Merkel cell carcinoma: experience of 14 cases and literature review.

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Unit of Surgery B, G. Pascale Foundation Cancer Institute, Naples, Italy.


Merkel cell carcinoma is an aggressive skin cancer, with a significant incidence of locoregional lymphnode involvement, which requires timely diagnosis, adequate staging and aggressive therapy based essentially on surgical procedures. The aim of this study is to report our experience and to compare our results with literature findings, in order to discuss the role of the procedures adopted and their influence on prognosis. From July 1995 to April 2005, 14 patients were treated and followed-up for MCC in the National Cancer Institute of Naples. Tumor location was: buttocks (43%), extremities (36%) head (7%), unknown (14%). There were 7 Stage I, 5 Stage II and 2 Stage III patients. Surgical treatment consisted in wide excision (WE) in Stage I cases, WE and regional lymphadenectomy followed by radio- or chemo-therapy in Stage II and combined surgical and pre- and post-operative medical treatments in Stage III. Overall disease specific survival rate was 64% (median follow up 44 months). Recurrence occurred in 86% of Stage I and 20% of Stage II patients and involved, in 83.3% of Stage I patients, the lymph nodal draining basin. The treatment of recurrence implied surgery and radio or radiochemotherapy. Overall survival rate of recurrent patients was 57% (median follow-up 37.2 months). Due to the particular lymphotrophism of MCC, major care should be set on investigation and treatment of tumor lymph nodal draining basin. As long as the disease remains surgically manageable the prognosis for patients with MCC is favourable. The role of radio and chemotherapy is not yet assessed.

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