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Modern management of Merkel cell carcinoma

Huber, Gerhard F.

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery: April 2014 - Volume 22 - Issue 2 - p 109–115
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0000000000000029
HEAD AND NECK ONCOLOGY: Edited by Piero Nicolai and Cesare Piazza

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.

ENT-Department, Head and Neck Surgery, Zurich, Switzerland

Correspondence to Priv.-Doz. Dr med. Gerhard F. Huber, ENT-Department, Head and Neck Surgery, Frauenklinikstrasse 24, CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland. Tel: +41 44 255 5860/1; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins