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 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.
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.