Treatment of Locally Advanced Merkel Cell Carcinoma-A Multi-Center Study

February 1, 2022



Publication Date

February 1, 2022

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“These data from 161 MCC patients in Poland very closely mirror what is seen in US studies that include careful analyses of management and disease recurrence. Specifically, 38% of MCC patients experienced a recurrence, and the fraction of patients whose sentinel lymph node biopsy was positive was one third. The authors conclude that ‘outcomes are unsatisfactory’ and we fully agree—there is much to be done.”


Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, aggressive skin cancer with a high risk of recurrence and poor prognosis. The treatment of locally advanced disease involves surgery and radiotherapy. To analyze real-life treatment patterns and clinical outcomes, we conducted a retrospective analysis of data from 161 MCC patients treated with curative intent in four oncological centers in Poland. The median age at diagnosis was 72 years (30–94); 49.7% were male. Lymph node (LN) involvement at diagnosis was found in 26.9% of patients. Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) was performed in 36.5% of patients (positive in 10.5%), and 51.9% of patients received perioperative treatment. The relapse rate was 38.3%. With the median follow-up of 2.3 years, the median disease-free survival (DFS) was not reached, and the 1-year rate was 65%. The negative independent risk factors for DFS were male gender, metastases in LN at diagnosis, no SLNB in patients without clinical nodal metastases, and no perioperative radiotherapy. The estimated median overall survival (OS) was 6.9 years (95% CI 4.64–9.15). The negative independent risk factors for OS were male gender, age above 70, metastases in LN at diagnosis, and no SLNB in patients without clinical nodal metastases. Our results confirm that the MCC treatment should be conducted in an experienced multidisciplinary team; however, the outcomes are still unsatisfactory.

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