Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Case Report: Elderly Woman Experiences Spontaneous Regression of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

By: Kayci Reyer
Posted: Monday, November 22, 2021

A case study presented in the International Medical Case Reports Journal describes the complete spontaneous regression of Merkel cell carcinoma in an elderly woman. Complete spontaneous regression among patients with Merkel cell carcinoma has been documented only about 40 times since its first observation in 1986.

“Unlike spontaneous regression in other tumors (eg, melanoma), complete spontaneous regression in [Merkel cell carcinoma] signifies a better prognosis, and only one distant and one regional recurrence after this event has been reported,” noted Regina Lohajova Behulova, PhD, of St. Elisabeth Cancer Institute in Slovakia, and colleagues.

An 88-year-old woman initially presented with a prominent purple nodule on the right side of her face. She had a history of gastric cancer, which had been curatively treated 11 years prior to this report. Following an incisional biopsy, she underwent diagnostic computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. A significant lesion in the right zygomatic region with adjacent bone invasion was observed, and the patient was diagnosed with stage IIA Merkel cell carcinoma. She underwent radical surgery 3 months after biopsy.

The 35 x 23 x 4 lesion was excised, and substantial lesion regression was noted. Merkel cell carcinoma cells were not detected in the biopsied sample, and histologic examination confirmed regressive skin changes. All remaining tissue was excised to confirm spontaneous regression. The patient recovered well following surgery and began receiving follow-up care. At 14 months following her initial diagnosis, she died of COVID-19 pneumonia.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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