Toward Better Management of Merkel Cell Carcinoma Using a Consensus Staging System, New Diagnostic Codes and a Recently Discovered Virus

December 1, 2009


Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas

Publication Date

December 1, 2009


J.G. Iyera, S. Koba, P. Nghiem

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Drs. Iyer, Koba & Nghiem outline new MCC ICD-9 codes and Staging System in a celebratory centennial review in the official Spanish Dermatology journal, Actas Dermo-sifiliograficus.


Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a neuroendocrine skin cancer with a higher propensity for recurrence and metastasis than melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Despite aggressive behavior and the tripling of its reported incidence in the past 20 years, there is extensive confusion about how MCC should be managed. Here we address two issues that have impeded optimal MCC management: lack of a consensus staging system and lack of unique diagnostic codes for MCC. Five conflicting systems currently used to stage MCC will be replaced by one system in 2010 that will diminish confusion about prognosis and management among physicians and patients. The diagnostic bundling of MCC with numerous less aggressive skin cancers leads to care refusals by insurance and an inability to track MCC care costs. Worldwide adoption in 2009 of specific diagnostic codes for MCC will also improve understanding and management of this often-lethal skin cancer.

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