Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) was rare, and aggressive skin cancer became more common as the population ages. The capacity to deploy particular immunotherapy targets was being researched and promising as the understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of MCC advances. Using the NCDB, researchers found 6,918 patients diagnosed with Merkel Cell Carcinoma using the ICD-O-3 histology code 8,247 between 2004 and 2016. Patients who underwent immunotherapy, chemotherapy, a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy, or neither chemotherapy nor immunotherapy were compared to see any differences in survival results. In addition to descriptive statistics, they used univariate analysis to determine the median length of survival for each of these distinct treatment modality cohorts. SPSS was used to analyze the data, and the statistical significance level was set at α = 0.05. About 118 patients in the NCDB got immunotherapy between 2004 and 2016. Around 21 individuals got immunotherapy between 2004 and 2014 (1.9 patients per year). In 2015 and 2016, the use of immunotherapy grew dramatically, with 18 and 79 individuals receiving treatment, respectively. Most immunotherapy patients (59%) were treated in an academic research facility.
In comparison, the rest were treated at a comprehensive community cancer program (24.8%), an integrated cancer network (12%), or a community cancer program (4.3%). Around 41.7% of MCC immunotherapy patients were between the ages of 33 and 69, whereas 59.3% were between 70 and 90. In addition, 39% of the 118 MCC patients who underwent immunotherapy were in stage IV, 38.1% were in stage III, 5.9% were in stage II, and 9.3% were in stage I. As immunotherapy in MCC continues to expand, particularly at academic research facilities, future studies should look into the trends in its use, the impact of immunotherapy on patient survival, and the stage of MCC at which immunotherapy was most commonly employed. Patients who underwent chemotherapy and immunotherapy had a significantly lower median survival rate than those who got either treatment alone. Investigators believed that the lower survival rates in patients who got immunotherapy were due to a later stage of treatment. Still, as the sample size of MCC patients getting immunotherapy grows, this would become clearer.
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