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Merkel cell carcinoma of the head and neck: poorer prognosis than non-head and neck sites

  • G B Morand (a1), J Madana (a1), S D Da Silva (a1), M P Hier (a1), A M Mlynarek (a1) and M J Black (a1)...



Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare, aggressive neurocutaneous malignancy. This study investigated whether patients with Merkel cell carcinoma in the head and neck had poorer outcomes than patients with Merkel cell carcinoma located elsewhere.


A retrospective study was performed of patients with Merkel cell carcinoma treated at the Jewish General Hospital in Montréal, Canada, from 1993 to 2013. Associations between clinicopathological characteristics and disease-free and disease-specific survival rates were examined according to the Kaplan–Meier method.


Twenty-seven patients were identified. Although basic clinicopathological characteristics and treatments were similar between head and neck and non-head and neck Merkel cell carcinoma groups, disease-free and disease-specific survival rates were significantly lower in the head and neck Merkel cell carcinoma group (log-rank test; p = 0.043 and p = 0.001, respectively). Mortality was mainly due to distant metastasis.


Patients with head and neck Merkel cell carcinoma had poorer survival rates than patients with non-head and neck Merkel cell carcinoma in our study. The tendency to obtain close margins, a less predictable metastatic pattern, and/or intrinsic tumour factors related to the head and neck may explain this discrepancy.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr Martin J Black, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Sir Mortimer B Davis Jewish General Hospital, 3755 Côte Ste-Catherine Road, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3 T 1E2 Fax: +1 514 843 1403 E-mail:


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Presented orally at the SIFORL International Meeting of French ENT Societies, 12–15 June 2014, Montréal, Québec, Canada.



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Merkel cell carcinoma of the head and neck: poorer prognosis than non-head and neck sites

  • G B Morand (a1), J Madana (a1), S D Da Silva (a1), M P Hier (a1), A M Mlynarek (a1) and M J Black (a1)...


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