When is chemotherapy indicated in the treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC)?

Updated: Jan 18, 2019
  • Author: Arjun S Joshi, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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MCC is a chemosensitive tumor. Because MCC is histochemically similar to small cell carcinoma of the lung, the chemotherapeutic regimens to treat them are similar. Carboplatin and etoposide have displayed promising results with comparatively less toxicity. In the setting of advanced disease, chemotherapy has produced good response rates, including complete remission; however, such favorable responses are usually short-lived. Nevertheless, occasional cases of long-term remission justify the use of systemic therapy in patients who can tolerate the toxicities of the chemotherapeutic agents. In March 2017, the PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitor avelumab became the first drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for metastatic MCC. [35]

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