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Journal of Oncology
Volume 2012, Article ID 749030, 9 pages
Clinical Study

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: A Retrospective Study on 48 Cases and Review of Literature

1Department of General Surgery, General Surgery Unit, Rare Hormonal Tumors Group, Surgery of Rare Hormonal Tumors, Azienda Ospedaliera Istituti Ospitalieri, Viale Concordia 1, 26100 Cremona, Italy
2Radiotherapy Unit and Nuclear Medicine, Azienda Ospedaliera Istituti Ospitalieri, Viale Concordia, 1, 26100 Cremona, Italy

Received 19 March 2012; Revised 28 June 2012; Accepted 13 August 2012

Academic Editor: Marialuisa Appetecchia

Copyright © 2012 Fernando Cirillo et al. 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.


Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare and aggressive neuroendocrine tumor of the skin. Fourty-eight patients with MCC were observed at the Rare Hormonal Tumors Group of Cremona Hospital, 15 of these with unknown primary site. Due to rarity of Merkel cell carcinoma, clinical experience is generally limited. Data from our series confirm the current recommendations. Wide surgical excision must be associated with radiotherapy also in early stages in order to avoid local relapse and the rapid progression of disease. In advanced stages chemotherapy is the standard despite the short duration of responses and poor quality of life. The data of our series, characterized by a high demand for second opinion, offer some insight about the real rarity of the tumor, the difficulty of managing of disease in our country secondary to a wrong cultural approach to the problem, the indiscriminate use of molecules unnecessary and often expensive, the lack of protocols, and the presence of guidelines often ignored. This results in very poor survival associated with a very low quality of life, requiring to find the right direction towards a correct management of disease.