Post-transplant Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Virve Koljonen, Helka Sahi, Tom Böhling, Heikki Mäkisalo
Malignant tumours are the foremost complications of immunosuppressive treatment. They are a major challenge for organ transplant recipients and their treating physicians. This paper reviews the aetiology and current treatment of an unusual neuroendocrine skin cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), caused by a Merkel cell polyomavirus infection. MCC occurs more frequently than expected in immunosuppressed subjects, especially in organ transplant recipients. The current literature comprises reports of 79 organ transplant recipients with MCC. The risk of MCC in organ transplant recipients is increased up to 66–182-fold compared with the general population. In addition to the increased risk of developing MCC, immunosuppressed individuals have poorer MCC-specific survival. The aim of this review article is to familiarize organ transplant doctors with this unique and clinically challenging skin cancer, and to provide recent data on the diagnosis and current treatment recommendations for an immunosuppressed population.