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Merkel cell carcinoma of the head and neck: Favorable outcomes with radiotherapy.

Head & Neck 2016 April
BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to report the outcomes of patients with Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) of the head and neck using a radiation-based treatment approach.

METHODS: We reviewed records of 106 consecutive patients with MCC of the head and neck treated with radiation therapy (RT) at our institution between 1988 and 2011. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate outcomes and hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated.

RESULTS: The 5-year actuarial local and regional control rates were 96% and 96%, respectively. There were no regional recurrences in 22 patients treated with RT to gross nodal disease without neck dissection. The 5-year cause-specific survival rate was 76%. Lymphadenopathy at presentation impacted distant metastatic-free survival outcomes (p < .001). Treatment was well tolerated with only 5 patients having grade ≥3 toxicities.

CONCLUSION: For MCC of the head and neck, a management strategy that includes RT offers excellent locoregional control. Gross nodal disease can be successfully treated with RT. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck 38: E452-E458, 2016.

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