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Becker, Jürgen C.; Lorenz, Eva; Ugurel, Selma; Eigentler, Thomas K.; Kiecker, Felix; Pföhler, Claudia; Kellner, Ivonne; Meier, Friedegund; Kähler, Katharina; Mohr, Peter; Berking, Carola; Haas, Gabriele; Helwig, Christoph; Oksen, Dina; Schadendorf, Dirk; Mahnkel, Lisa and Bharmal, Murtuza (2017): Evaluation of real-world treatment outcomes in patients with distant metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma following second-line chemotherapy in Europe. In: Oncotarget, Vol. 8, No. 45: pp. 79731-79741

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Background and aims: Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, aggressive skin cancer;few treatments exist for patients with advanced disease. Once tumors metastasize to distant sites, patients generally receive chemotherapy, but response duration and progression-free survival (PFS) are typically short. Few studies have assessed the efficacy of second-line chemotherapy for metastatic MCC. Here, we studied outcomes in patients who received = 2 lines of chemotherapy for metastatic MCC. Materials and Methods: Patients in an MCC-specific registry diagnosed with stage IV MCC between November 1, 2004, and September 15, 2015, and treated with second-line or later chemotherapy were analyzed retrospectively. Patient records, including baseline characteristics, immunocompetent status, and responses to prior chemotherapy, were evaluated. Patients meeting eligibility criteria were followed through December 31, 2015. Results: Of 29 patients with metastatic MCC and immunocompetent status who had received = 2 lines of chemotherapy, 3 achieved a partial response, for an objective response rate (ORR) of 10.3% (95% CI, 2.2-27.4). In the overall population including patients with immunocompetent and immunocompromised status (n = 34), the ORR was 8.8% (95% CI, 1.9-23.7). The median duration of response was 1.9 months (range, 1.3-2.1 months;95% CI, 1.3-2.1). In the immunocompetent population, median PFS and overall survival were 3.0 months (95% CI, 2.5-6.0) and 5.3 months (95% CI, 4.3-6.0), respectively. Conclusions: The low response rates and limited durability confirm previous reports of the ineffectiveness of second-line or later chemotherapy in patients with metastatic MCC and provide a benchmark for assessing clinical benefit of new treatments.

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