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Curr Dermatol Rep. 2014 Jan 22;3:46-53. eCollection 2014.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: Epidemiology, Target, and Therapy.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), 4301 W. Markham St., # 576, Little Rock, 72205 USA.
Department of Radiation Oncology, UAMS, 4301 W. Markham St., # 771, Little Rock, 72205 USA.
Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Dermatology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis, 63110 USA.
Department of Medicine, UAMS, 4301 W. Markham St., # 508, Little Rock, 72205 USA.
General Dermatology and Immunology, Medical University of Gaze, Auenbruggerplatz 8, 8036 Graz, Austria.


Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine tumor of the skin with a rising incidence. MCC has metastatic potential regardless the size of the primary tumor and a 5-year disease associated mortality rate is 46 %. Surgery and radiation are the mainstays of management for primary MCC. There is no evidence-based effective chemotherapy for recurrent or metastatic diseases to date. In-depth mechanistic studies in MCC have uncovered important cellular events and the association with a polyomavirus, which has provided direct evidence for molecular targeted and immunotherapy. Further perspective studies and clinical trials are warranted to provide reliable evidence of possible pitfalls and effectiveness of molecular targeted immunotherapy alone or in combination with chemotherapy in MCC.


Chemotherapy; Immune therapy; Immunosuppression; Merkel cell carcinoma; Merkel cell polyomavirus; Radiation therapy; Sentinel lymph node biopsy; Signaling pathway

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