Pigmented intraepithelial Merkel cell carcinoma mimicking melanoma in situ.


Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare neoplasm that arises in the skin of elderly patients on sun-exposed areas such as the head, neck, and extremities. Involvement of the epidermis by tumor cells is a relatively uncommon phenomenon. However, a few cases have been reported of Merkel cell carcinoma in situ (MCCIS) in which tumor cells are confined exclusively to the epidermis without dermal involvement. Herein, we present a peculiar MCCIS lesion in a 66-year-old man composed of tumor cells in a nested and lentiginous growth pattern, exhibiting variable quantities of intracytoplasmic dusty brown pigment consistent with melanin, thus closely mimicking melanoma in situ. In addition, the lesion was associated with invasive squamous cell carcinoma, which has not been previously reported in the literature. An extensive search of the PubMed-indexed, English-language literature yielded only 17 case reports of MCCIS without documented invasion in which clinical data were available. Out of the cases with available clinical information, individuals with strict MCCIS (n = 13) showed no evidence of recurrence or metastases. The median follow-up time in the cases with available data (n = 9) was 12 months (mean 12.8 months, range 6-21). Thus, MCCIS without invasion may have a favorable clinical course in contrast to invasive MCC tumors.