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Journal of Skin Cancer
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 327150, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/327150
Review Article

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: Chemotherapy and Emerging New Therapeutic Options

Universitätsklinik für Dermatologie, AKH, Medizinische Universität Wien, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090 Wien, Austria

Received 25 July 2012; Accepted 10 December 2012

Academic Editor: Boban M. Erovic

Copyright © 2013 Laura Desch and Rainer Kunstfeld. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare neuroendocrine skin tumor that typically occurs in elderly, immunosuppressed patients. Infection with Merkel cell virus (MCV) and immunosuppression play an important role in the development of MCC. Different staging systems make it difficult to compare the existing clinical data. Furthermore, there predominantly exist single case reports and case series, but no randomized controlled trials. However, it is necessary to develop further therapy options because MCC tends to grow rapidly and metastasizes early. In the metastatic disease, therapeutic attempts were made with various chemotherapeutic combination regimens. Because of the high toxicity of these combinations, especially those established in SCLC, and regarding the unsatisfying results, the challenge is to balance the pros and cons of chemotherapy individually and carefully. Up to now, emerging new therapy options as molecular-targeted agents, for example, pazopanib, imatinib, or somatostatin analogues as well as immunologicals, for example, imiquimod and interferons, also showed less success concerning the disease-free response rates. According to the literature, neither chemotherapy nor molecular-targeted agents or immunotherapeutic strategies have shown promising effects in the therapy of the metastatic disease of MCC so far. There is a great demand for randomized controlled studies and a need for an MCC registry and multicenter clinical trials due to the tumors curiosity.