A SEER program study of survival trends in Merkel cell carcinoma of the eyelid: 2000-2019

December 15, 2023



Publication Date

December 15, 2023


Nudelman, N. T., Ekhator, N., Rothschild, M., & Wladis, E. J.

Merkelcell.org Summary

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) of the eyelid is rare but can be tricky to treat due to its location. The researchers looked at 349 cases in the U.S. from 2000 to 2019, which is about 2% of all the MCC cases in the country. Like earlier studies showed, most people with eyelid MCC were white women older than 85. 20% of them died from this cancer within 5 years after finding out they had it, and most of these deaths happened in the first year. While further research is needed, the study is important for doctors, especially the ones who work on eyes, to help them understand and treat MCC better.


Purpose: Merkel cell carcinoma of the eyelid (MCCE) is a rare yet aggressive neuroendocrine tumour associated with significant morbidity and mortality. This study aimed to investigate survival trends and demographic factors related to MCCE, 2000-2019, using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program.

Methods: Cases were analysed by demographic parameters, disease properties, and survival. Statistical analyses were performed via a dedicated computerized software package.

Results: A total 349 cases of MCCE were identified, accounting for 2% of all MCC cases in the United States during that time. Of note, the incidence of MCCE remained stable over the study period (p = .35). Female patients accounted for 56% of the cases, and males for 44%. White patients accounted for 90.8% of the the cases, and Black patients for 2.9%. MCCE incidence increased with age, with the majority of patients age 85+ (p < .05). Incidence was greatest in metropolitan areas and among those with median incomes >$75,000/year. Income correlated with likelihood of MCCE diagnosis (p < .05). Analysis of 5-year survival data showed 20% of the patients died due to MCCE within 5 years of diagnosis. Of these, the majority died within one year of diagnosis.

Conclusions: Consistent with previous reports, most patients were white, female, and age 85+.Incidence correlated with metropolitan environments and median income. While most patients did not die from MCCE, majority of recorded deaths occurred within one year of diagnosis.

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