Somatostatin receptor positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging in Merkel cell carcinoma

M. Sollini, S. Taralli, M. Milella, P. A. Erba, S. Rubagotti, A. Fraternali, M. Roncali, E. Moscarella, G. Perotti, V. Rufini, A. Versari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an uncommon aggressive primary cutaneous carcinoma with neuroendocrine differentiation. However, literature data about the use of somatostatin receptor positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging in MCC are limited and its role is not clearly stated. Objective: To investigate the role of PET/CT using somatostatin analogues radiolabelled with gallium-68 in patients with MCC. Methods: All patients affected by MCC who performed a somatostatin receptor PET/CT imaging from October 2007 to May 2014 were retrospectively analysed. The diagnostic performances of PET/CT were evaluated on a patient-based analysis and compared to final diagnosis (histology = 3 or clinical/radiological follow-up = 20). Results: We evaluated 23 consecutive MCC patients [18 men; median age 71 years (range 47–87)]. Primary tumour was located in ear (1/23), cheek (3/23), arm (2/23), hand (1/23), back (1/23), anal canal (1/23), gluteus (4/23), thigh (3/23) and popliteal fossa (1/23). In 6/23 patients, the site of primary tumour was unknown. PET/CT was performed to detect primary tumour site (4/23) or to stage (8/23) or re-stage (11/23) patients. PET/CT resulted positive in 14/23 patients and according to the final diagnosis was defined true positive, true negative, false positive (FP) and false negative in 11/23, 8/23, 3/23 and 1/23 cases respectively. FP PET/CT results were due to unspecific liver uptake, post-surgical inflammation and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour. PET/CT was unable to detect primary tumour site in all patients with unknown primary MCC. Sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic accuracy of PET/CT were 92%, 73% and 83% respectively. Conclusions: In our experience, somatostatin receptor PET/CT imaging resulted useful in patients with MCC and presented high diagnostic performances with a significant impact in disease management although in patients with unknown primary MCC, it was unable to identify the primary tumour site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1507-1511
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Dermatology
  • Infectious Diseases


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