Merkel cell carcinoma: A review

A. E. Verzì, S. M. Amin, Joan Guitart, G. Micali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare aggressive primary cutaneous carcinoma with high mortality and rising incidence. The exact etiology of MCC remains unclear, but it is likely multifactorial with many factors playing a role, among these, ultraviolet radiation, immunosuppression, and recently, Merkel cell polyomavirus. Clinically MCC appears as an asymptomatic, firm, skin colored, sometimes reddish-blue, dome-shaped papule or plaque or subcutaneous nodule typically localized on the head and neck region that has grown rapidly. As its clinical presentation is generally non specific, the diagnosis relies on histological and immunohistochemical findings. Once diagnosis is established, adequate staging requires evaluation of regional and distant metastases. Treatment is based on multidisciplinary management although optimal therapy is controversial, at least in part due to a lack of quality data. Aggressive surgery frequently associated with adjuvant radiotherapy is used to improve the rates of locoregional recurrence and overall survival as well. Future targeted therapies may open new perspectives for the treatment of patients although high-quality, multicentre and randomized studies are needed. In this article, the current knowledge about MCC is reviewed and discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-428
Number of pages10
JournalGiornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Carcinoma
  • Carcinoma
  • Merkel cell
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus
  • Neuroendocrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology

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