Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Merkel Cell Carcinoma Rates Increasing in US

J Am Acad Dermatol; ePub 2017 Nov 1; Paulson, et al

An aging population is driving brisk increases in the number of new Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) cases in the US, a recent study found. This growing impact, combined with a rapidly evolving therapeutic landscape, warrants expanded awareness of MCC diagnosis and management. Registry data were obtained from the SEER-18 database, containing 6,600 MCC cases. Age and sex-adjusted projections were generated utilizing US census data. Researchers found:

  • Between 2000-2013, there was a 95% increase in the number of reported MCC cases, compared to 57% for melanoma and 15% for all “solid” cancers.
  • In 2013, the MCC incidence rate was 0.7 per 100,000 person-years in the US, corresponding to 2,488 cases.
  • MCC incidence increased exponentially with age, from 0.1 to 1.0 to 9.8 (per 100,000 person-years) between age groups 40-44, 60-64, and >85 years, respectively.
  • Due to aging of the Baby Boom generation, US MCC incidence is predicted to climb to 2,835 cases in 2020 and 3,284 cases in 2025.


Paulson KG, Park SY, Vandeven NA, et al. Merkel cell carcinoma: Current United States incidence and projected increases based on changing demographics. [Published online ahead of print November 1, 2017]. J Am Acad Dermatol. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2017.10.028.

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