Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Dermatol Clin. 2023 Jan;41(1):101-115. doi: 10.1016/j.det.2022.07.015. Epub 2022 Oct 28.


Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a neuroendocrine carcinoma that typically presents as a rapidly enlarging violaceous papulonodule on sun-damaged skin in elderly patients. MCC has high rates of local recurrence, metastasis, and poor survival. Treatment of the primary tumor involves surgical excision with possible adjuvant radiation therapy, whereas regional nodal disease is treated with some combination of lymph node dissection and radiation therapy. Immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as avelumab and pembrolizumab, are first-line agents for metastatic MCC. Monitoring for recurrence can be aided by Merkel cell polyomavirus oncoprotein antibody titers.

Keywords: Immune checkpoint inhibitors; Merkel cell carcinoma; Merkel cell polyomavirus; Mohs micrographic surgery; Radiation therapy; Sentinel lymph node biopsy; Wide local excision.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus*
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology