Merkel cell carcinoma arising from the subcutaneous fat of the arm with intact skin

Guo Shu Huang, Wei Chou Chang, Herng Sheng Lee, John A.M. Taylor, Tiang Yeu Cheng, Cheng Yu Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND. Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare malignant neuroendocrine neoplasm characteristically arising from the dermis of sunlight-exposed skin. It rarely arises outside the skin. OBJECTIVE. We present a patient with primary Merkel cell carcinoma arising from subcutaneous fat, with no involvement of the overlying skin. We describe the clinical manifestations and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings. METHODS. We report a 63-year-old woman with a primary lesion of Merkel cell carcinoma that arose from the subcutaneous fat layer of the left arm. The lesion presented as a subcutaneous nodule with intact overlying skin. MRI showed that the nodular lesion was located entirely in the subcutaneous fat layer, with no involvement of the dermis. Peritumoral infiltration around the lesion and enlarged lymph nodes deep to the lesion were noted. The patient received wide excision of the lesion with dissection of the regional lymph nodes and adjuvant radiotherapy and chemotherapy. RESULTS. Histopathologic examination confirmed the diagnosis of Merkel cell carcinoma with local lymphatic metastasis, and the lesion was completely located in the subcutaneous fat, with no involvement of the dermis. These findings were well correlated with MRI findings. CONCLUSION. Primary Merkel cell carcinoma may arise from the subcutaneous fat and present as an entirely subcutaneous lesion with intact skin. MRI is helpful to evaluate the local extension of the lesion and regional lymphatic metastasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-719
Number of pages3
JournalDermatologic Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Surgery


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