Merkel cell carcinoma: Do you know your guidelines?

The Education Committee of the American Head and Neck Society (AHNS)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a cutaneous neuroendocrine malignancy that exhibits clinically aggressive features and is associated with a poor prognosis. The incidence of MCC seems to be increasing for reasons unknown, and is estimated to be 0.32/100,000 in the United States. Methods This article will review the current literature and National Comprehensive Cancer Network practice guidelines in the treatment of MCC. Results Resection of MCC with negative margins remains the mainstay of therapy. Positive nodal disease should be treated with neck dissection and adjuvant radiotherapy. High-risk patients should undergo adjuvant radiotherapy, which improves oncologic outcomes. The role of chemotherapy is less clear and is currently reserved for advanced-stage MCC and palliative therapy. Conclusion The pathogenesis of MCC has recently been impacted with the discovery of the Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV). Research to establish targeted and immunologic therapeutic options are ongoing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-652
Number of pages6
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2016


  • MCPyV-negative
  • MCPyV-positive
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV)
  • cutaneous malignancies


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