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Radiotherapy for Merkel Cell Carcinoma: Multidisciplinary Team Approach

By: Joshua D. Madera, MS
Posted: Thursday, September 10, 2020

For patients with unknown or polyomavirus-positive Merkel cell carcinoma, a multidisciplinary treatment approach may be of benefit, according to a retrospective study published in Tumori Journal. In addition to radiotherapy being a pivotal component of treatment, it should be discussed and considered on a case-by-case basis, according to Roberto Orecchia, MD, of the European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy, and colleagues.

From 2003 to 2018, a total of 26 patients with Merkel cell carcinoma were enrolled in the study. All patients had previously been treated with a variant of radiotherapy: 19 patients received adjuvant radiotherapy, 4 patients received exclusive radiotherapy, and 3 patients received palliative radiotherapy. Further analysis revealed that 13 patients were given intensity-modulated radiotherapy, 11 were given a 3D conformal technique, and 2 were given stereotactic radiotherapy. Patient data were collected from the European Institute of Oncology.

The investigators reported the median relapse-free survival for patients with unknown primary Merkel cell carcinoma and for those who had received adjuvant radiotherapy was 23 months and 20.5 months, respectively. In addition, in the adjuvant setting, patients who had polyomavirus-positive disease had a median relapse-free survival rate of 21.5 months, compared with 14 months for those who had polyomavirus-negative disease. Overall, relapse-free survival was 10.5 months for those with polyomavirus-positive disease, compared with 8 months found for those with polyomavirus-negative disease.

Furthermore, 1 of 10 patients experienced a recurrence following adjuvant radiotherapy. However, prognosis at the time of data collection revealed that 16 patients were alive and without the disease, 1 patient had advanced disease, 8 patients died of disease progression, and 1 patient died of other causes.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit journals.sagepub.com.



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