Cytomorphology of primary small-cell (Merkel-cell) carcinoma of the skin in fine needle aspirates

C. A. Szpak, E. H. Bossen, J. Linder, W. W. Johnston

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The histologic appearance of primary small-cell carcinoma of the skin (the so-called Merkel-cell tumor) is similar to other small-cell tumors that may metastasize to the dermis. Significance has been placed on the electron microscopic appearance of this tumor since the ultrastructural features of this neoplasm are helpful in distinguishing it from most of the other neoplasms considered in the differential diagnosis. To determine whether any additional morphologic criteria might exist to distinguish this neoplasm, the fine needle aspirate appearance of a primary small-cell carcinoma of the skin was studied and compared to that of similar preparations of other small-cell tumors that could potentially involve the dermis. Cells of this unusual tumor were round and showed neither cohesiveness nor nuclear molding. Mitoses were numerous. the chromatin pattern was bland. The cytologic features of this tumor can aid in the distinction of primary small-cell carcinoma of the skin from other metastatic small-cell neoplastic lesions in the dermis of adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-296
Number of pages7
JournalActa Cytologica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1984


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology

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