Merkel cell carcinoma of the head and neck

Authors

  • R. P. TAKES,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoekhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • A. J. M. BALM,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoekhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • B. M. LOFTUS,

    1. Department of Pathology The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoekhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • G. BARIS,

    1. †Department of Radiation Oncology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoekhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • F. J. M. HILGERS,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoekhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • R. T. GREGOR

    1. Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoekhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Dr A. J. M. Balm, Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare cutaneous tumour that typically arises in the head and neck area of elderly patients. The tumour often follows an aggressive course with frequent local recurrences and (regional) metastases, especially when localized above the clavicles. Five patients with a Merkel cell carcinoma of the head and neck, treated in our institute since 1984, are presented, illustrating the need for radical initial treatment consisting of surgery and radiotherapy, and showing how rapidly progressive the disease can be.

Four of the five patients were cured of disease by a combination of surgery and radiotherapy.

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