Accurate and complete pathology reports are critical for the optimal management of cancer patients. Protocols for the pathologic reporting of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) have been developed independently by the Royal College of Pathologists (UK) and the College of American Pathologists. In this study, data elements for pathologic reporting of MCC were analyzed by an international panel of pathologists and clinicians with the aim of developing a common, internationally agreed upon dataset useful for clinical practice. The International Collaboration on Cancer Reporting expert review panel developed a protocol containing "core" (required) and "noncore" (recommended) elements. Core elements were defined as those that had evidentiary support and were unanimously agreed upon by the review panel as essential for the clinical management, staging, and/or assessment of prognosis in patients with MCC. Noncore elements were those considered to be clinical of interest, but with lesser degrees of supportive evidence or nonactionable implications. Ten core data elements for pathology reports on primary MCC were defined. Development and agreement on this evidence-based protocol at an international level was accomplished in a timely and efficient manner. The template developed for melanoma reporting was used as a structural base for this initiative. It is applicable to, and may facilitate the development of, protocols for other tumor types. Widespread utilization of an internationally agreed upon structured pathology dataset for MCC can be expected to lead to improved patient management. It should also facilitate collaborative clinical research.
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