Diagnostic imaging in patients with Merkel cell carcinoma

Author(s): Erovic Boban

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) is a rare and invasive cutaneous neuroendocrine tumor with a mortality rate of about 25%. Accurate assessment of lymph node involvement in patients with MCC significantly predicts overall outcome. Due to the rarity of this very dangerous disease, only a few imaging reports on MCC have been published and thus, to date, there is no accepted imaging algorithm for MCC. For the initial stage of MCC, general recommendations include ultrasound, chest X-ray, and MRI, but recent papers suggest an increasing use of the focal node and FDG-PET/PET-CT become important. Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare and very aggressive neuroendocrine tumor of the skin. It mainly develops on sun-exposed head and neck areas. In 1972, Toker described an unknown trabecular skin carcinoma in 5 Caucasian patients. In 1982, Tang and Toker proposed that MCC originates from Merkel cells, a hair follicle receptor mechanism.