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Combined radio-immunotherapy leads to complete clinical regression of stage IV Merkel cell carcinoma


Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, aggressive neuroendocrine tumour of the skin. While localised disease carries an overall favourable prognosis, metastatic disease is associated with poor clincal outcomes. Most cases of metastatic MCC are managed with systemic chemotherapy or immunotherapy, though 5-year survival for these patients remains a dismal 17%. Here, we present the case of a 79-year-old man with MCC of the right ear with metastases to regional lymph nodes, ipsilateral parotid gland and thoracic spine. He was treated with a combination of first-line radiotherapy and concurrent immune checkpoint inhibition (avelumab), which led to complete clinical regression of disease with minimal adverse effects. This observation suggests that combined radio-immunotherapy warrants larger-scale investigation for use in patients with unresectable MCC.

  • oncology
  • radiotherapy
  • skin cancer
  • immunological products and vaccines
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