Merkel cell carcinoma: a clinical, histopathologic, and immunohistochemical review

Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2004 Mar;23(1):46-53. doi: 10.1016/s1085-5629(03)00087-7.


Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare aggressive neoplasm, with about 400 cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Among the cutaneous-derived neoplasms, it is the most deadliest, with a higher mortality rate than melanoma. Although the classic clinical presentation as a rapidly growing papule in a sun-exposed site of an elderly patient is not specific, certain histopathologic and ancillary pathologic features allow for its discrimination in most cases. Herein, we review the etiology, pathogenesis, clinical, and pathologic attributes as well as the staging treatment and prognosis of this important public health menace.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy