Purpose of review: Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, aggressive malignancy. Worldwide incidence is increasing and roughly 50% of patients present with a primary lesion in the head and neck. This article discusses recent advances and treatment recommendations.
Recent findings: Recent research has focused on the carcinogenesis of MCC, in particular the role of Merkel cell polyoma virus (MCPyV) and its surrogate marker large T-antigen. Together with cytokeratin 20 (CK20), other biomarkers like human insulin gene enhancer-binding protein islet-1 (ISL1) and transcription factor OCT4 may provide improved methods for diagnosis and ultimately, therapy.
Summary: This review summarizes recent findings on MCC pathogenesis with a special emphasis on the impact of MCPyV. It further presents an overview of clinical aspects, and discusses treatment standards and emerging perspectives.