18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography–Computed Tomography Imaging in the Management of Merkel Cell Carcinoma: A Single-Institution Retrospective Study

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Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is among the deadliest of cutaneous malignancies. A lack of consensus evaluation and treatment guidelines has hindered management of this disease. The utility of simultaneous positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) has been demonstrated for a variety of tumors yet remains underinvestigated for MCC.


To report the value of fluorodeoxyglucose PET/CT imaging in the initial staging and ongoing management of individuals with MCC and to determine whether any patient or tumor characteristics may predict when PET/CT is more likely to have greater influence on medical decision-making.

Materials and Methods

A single-institution retrospective chart review was conducted of all patients diagnosed with MCC who underwent FDG-PET/CT scanning from 2007 to 2010. The outcome of each of these studies was evaluated as to the influence on patient staging and management. Patient clinical information and information on gross and microscopic tumor characteristics were collected and analyzed.


Twenty patients underwent 39 PET/CT scans. Results of PET/CT imaging revealed previously unknown information related to MCC in four (20%) patients, leading to changes in management in three of these four cases. Three previously unknown neoplasms were detected.


Fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography and computed tomography is a valuable tool for initial staging and to assess response to therapy of patients diagnosed with MCC. Larger prospective studies would be required to establish the optimal timing for this imaging modality.

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