gms | German Medical Science

76th Annual Meeting of the German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

German Society of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

04.05. - 08.05.2005, Erfurt

The metastazising Merkel`s cell carcinoma: Palliative surgery or therapeutic nihilism ?

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author Ingo Ott - Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Bad Hersfeld Hospital, Bad Hersfeld
  • Leander Ermert - Institute of Pathology, University of Giessen Medical School, Giessen
  • Peter R. Issing - Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Bad Hersfeld Hospital, Bad Hersfeld

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Hals-Nasen-Ohren-Heilkunde, Kopf- und Hals-Chirurgie. 76. Jahresversammlung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Hals-Nasen-Ohren-Heilkunde, Kopf- und Hals-Chirurgie e.V.. Erfurt, 04.-08.05.2005. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2005. Doc05hno379

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: September 22, 2005

© 2005 Ott et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Introduction: Merkel`s cell carcinomas (MCC) are rare, highly malignant, neuroendocrine skin tumors of the elder age with a primary manifestation on the sun-exposed skin of the head. MCC are prone to regional and systemic metastatic spread as well as local recurrence. Radical excision plus radiotherapy due to a high sensitivity for irradiation is decisive for the therapeutic outcome. Especially with disseminated disease a functionally preserving approach is to be considered.

Method: A 85-year-old female presented with a lesion of the left parotid region. At the same time skin tumors of the lower eye lid were observed. The left facial nerve showed a paralysis House-Brackmann-grade II. History-taking revealed excision of a MCC 1½ year prior to presentation as well as resection and radiotherapy of a malignant melanoma of the left cheek 25 years ago. Cytological examination of the parotid tumor detected the cellular picture of a MCC metastasis.

Results: Facing the age of the patient a therapy aiming for functional preservation was performed. The metastasis could be removed by lateral parotidectomy, the skin metastasis by excision with full-skin-graft coverage. Subsequent radiotherapy seemed not to be advisable because of a massive local skin atrophy after previous irradiation.

Conclusion: This case clearly indicates the necessity for diagnostic accuracy and individual therapeutic management. Only radical tumor resection and complete cervikal lymphnodectomy combined with radiotherapy in the initial manifestation of MCC will provide chances for long-term survival. The treatment of a metastasized MCC can merely reach palliatve results, though it might be of considerable value concerning the control of the disease`s progress.