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CD8+ Lymphocyte Intratumoral Infiltration as a Stage-Independent Predictor of Merkel Cell Carcinoma Survival: A Population-Based Study

Intratumoral CD8+ lymphocytes (IT-CD8s) have shown promise as a prognostic indicator for Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). We tested whether IT-CD8s predict survival among a population-based MCC cohort. One hundred thirty-seven MCC cases that had not previously been analyzed for IT-CD8s were studied. Three-year MCC-specific survival rates were 56%, 72%, and 100% for patients with absent (n = 46), low (n = 85), and moderate or strong (n = 6) IT-CD8s, respectively. Increased IT-CD8s were associated with improved MCC-specific survival in a multivariate competing risk-regression analysis including stage, age, and sex (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.3-0.9). Although a similar trend was observed for overall survival, statistical significance was not reached (HR = 0.8; 95% CI = 0.6-1.0), likely because of the high rate of non-MCC deaths among older patients. This study of prospectively captured MCC cases supports the concept that cellular immunity is important in MCC outcome and that CD8+ lymphocyte infiltration adds prognostic information to conventional staging.

Authors: Paulson KG; Iyer JG; Simonson WT; Blom A; Thibodeau RM; Schmidt M; Pietromonaco S; Sokil M; Warton EM; Asgari MM; Nghiem P

Am J Clin Pathol. 2014 Oct;142(4):452-8.

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