Background/aim: Skin cancers are the most common malignancy of the hand and wrist. Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, aggressive non-melanoma skin cancer arising from cutaneous neuroendocrine cells and is known for local and distant recurrence. The purpose of the current study was to examine the treatment outcome of patients with MCC of the hand and wrist.
Patients and methods: We reviewed 25 patients (18 males:7 females) with MCC that occurred in the hand and wrist. The mean age at the time of biopsy of 71±11 years.
Results: Tumors were located on the hand (n=13), finger/thumb (n=9), and wrist (n=3). Local control included wide local excision (n=22). This included 21 non-amputation resections and one 5th digit ray amputation. Sentinel lymph node biopsy was performed in 21 patients with positive nodal disease in seven cases. Adjuvant radiotherapy was delivered to the primary site in 17 patients and additionally to the regional lymph node basin in six patients. Recurrence within five years was noted in 40% of patients (mean time to recurrence 18.4±20.6 months). Recurrence-free and disease-specific survival rates at 5-years were 54.8% and 67.6%.
Conclusion: MCC is a rare cutaneous neuroendocrine carcinoma with a high propensity for regional nodal spread. Despite aggressive local treatment, adjuvant radiotherapy to the primary site and regional nodes, MCC of the hand and wrist has a high rate of recurrence and mortality within five years of diagnosis.
Keywords: Merkel cell carcinoma; orthopaedic oncology.
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