Merkel Cell Carcinoma Review

Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2019 Feb;33(1):39-52. doi: 10.1016/j.hoc.2018.08.002.


Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare and aggressive cutaneous malignancy of neuroendocrine origin-an often-missed diagnosis due to the wide histopathologic differential diagnosis of malignant small blue cell tumors. The advent of electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry staining for cytokeratin 20, a shared neuroendocrine marker, greatly improved diagnostic accuracy. Over the past decade, staging, treatment, and surveillance of the cancer have progressed at a remarkably rapid pace. Herein, the authors provide an update on the current guidelines around diagnosis and management and review the exciting advancements on the horizon.

Keywords: Guidelines; Immunotherapy; Merkel cell carcinoma; Merkel cell polyomavirus; Neuroendocrine tumor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Management
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Phenotype
  • Prognosis
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Symptom Assessment


  • Biomarkers, Tumor