Prognostic factors in Merkel cell carcinoma patients undergoing sentinel node biopsy

I. Mattavelli, R. Patuzzo, V. Torri, G. Gallino, A. Maurichi, M. Lamera, B. Valeri, E. Bolzonaro, C. Barbieri, E. Tolomio, D. Moglia, A. M. Nespoli, C. Galeone, R. Saw, M. Santinami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Debate remains about prognostic factors in primary Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). We investigated clinicopathological factors as determinants of survival in patients with MCC submitted to sentinel node biopsy. Methods Sixty-four consecutive patients treated for a primary MCC were identified from a prospectively maintained database at Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan. Time to events outcome were described by product limit estimators and proportional hazards model was used to investigate the association between outcome and potential predictors. Results The most common site of primary tumor was lower limbs (56.3%). The size of primary lesion was ≤2 cm in 67.2% of cases. Presence of residual disease after the diagnostic surgical excision was observed in 28% of cases. All patients received sentinel node biopsy (SNB) and a SN positivity was detected in 26.6%. The median follow up was 78 months. Disease recurrence occurred in 17 patients (26.6%). In the SN negative group 10 recurrences occurred (21.3%), whereas 7 (41.2%) were found in SN positive one. Nine patients SN negative (19.1%) died of disease and 3 (17.6%) among SN positive. SN status was not associated with survival (p = 0.78). Neither age, gender, size and site of primary tumor resulted predictors of patients' outcome. The presence of residual tumor in the specimen of the wide local excision, after the diagnostic surgical excision, was the only variable associated with survival (p = 0.03). Conclusions Presence of residual tumor in the specimen of the wide local excision is the main prognostic factor in MCC patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1536-1541
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Excision margins
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Prognostic factors
  • Recurrence
  • Sentinel node biopsy
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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