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Journal of Skin Cancer
Volume 2013, Article ID 929364, 6 pages
Review Article

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: The Past, the Present, and the Future

1Medical University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria
2Medical University of Vienna, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, 1090 Vienna, Austria

Received 20 October 2012; Revised 7 March 2013; Accepted 25 March 2013

Academic Editor: Justin Lee

Copyright © 2013 Inamaria Erovic and Boban M. Erovic. 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.


Since the first description of the Merkel cell carcinoma by Cyril Toker in 1972, the number of studies has significantly increased over the last 4 decades. In this review, we will illustrate the historical background of the Merkel cell carcinoma beginning with the 19th century, the first description of the Merkel cell to the finding of the CK20 as a highly specific diagnostic marker and finally to the recently detected Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV). Moreover, we will highlight the beginning of adjuvant therapeutic regimens with radiotherapy and chemotherapy and discuss the diagnostic work-up including imaging and histology of patients with Merkel cell carcinoma. Another very rapidly growing and interesting field of research is the development of patients' specific and tailored targeted therapy, in particular in patients with distant metastatic disease.