Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 212–217 | Cite as

Merkel Cell Carcinoma: Is there a Role for 2-Deoxy-2-[F-18]fluoro-d-glucose-Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography?

  • A. Iagaru
  • A. Quon
  • I. R. McDougall
  • S. S. GambhirEmail author
Brief Article



2-Deoxy-2-[F-18]fluoro-d-glucose (FDG)–positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) is becoming widely available as a powerful imaging modality, combining the ability to detect active metabolic processes and their morphologic features in a single study. The role of FDG-PET/CT is proven in lymphoma, melanoma, colorectal carcinoma, and other cancers. However, there are rare malignancies such as Merkel cell carcinoma that can potentially be evaluated with PET/CT. We were therefore prompted to review our experience with FDG-PET/CT in the management of patients with Merkel cell carcinoma.


This is a retrospective case series of six patients with Merkel cell carcinoma, 58–81 years old (average 69 ± 8.3), who had whole-body PET/CT at our institution from January 1st, 2003 to August 31st, 2005. Two patients were women and four were men. Reinterpretation of the imaging studies for accuracy and data analysis from medical records were performed.


Twelve examinations were acquired for the six patients (one patient had six PET/CT, one patient had two PET/CT, and four patients had one PET/CT). The injected FDG doses ranged 381.1–669.7 MBq (average 573.5 ± 70.3). Four patients had the PET/CT as part of initial staging, and two patients had the exam for restaging (after surgery and XRT). A total of six Merkel lesions (pancreas, adrenal, lip, submandibular lymph nodes, cervical lymph nodes, and parapharyngeal soft tissue) were identified in three patients and confirmed on histopathological examination. The FDG uptake in these areas was intense, with maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) values of 5–14 (average 10.4 ± 3.8). In one patient, the PET/CT scan identified abnormal focal distal sigmoid uptake that was biopsied and diagnosed as adenocarcinoma. Two patients had negative scans and had no clinical evidence of disease on follow-up office visits (up to one year after PET/CT).


This case series suggests that FDG-PET/CT may have a promising role in the management of patients with Merkel cell carcinoma.

Key words

Merkel cell Carcinoma FDG PET/CT 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Iagaru
    • 1
  • A. Quon
    • 1
  • I. R. McDougall
    • 1
  • S. S. Gambhir
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Nuclear Medicine, Department of RadiologyStanford University Medical CenterStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Division of Nuclear Medicine, Departments of Radiology and Bioengineering, Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS)Stanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

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