Merkel Cell Carcinoma is a Rare and Potentially Aggressive Form of Skin Cancer that Arises in the Cells on the Outer Layer of Skin.
They’re called Merkel cells and make up only a small percentage of skin cells. Though the cancer can grow and spread rapidly, it is generally treatable and often curable if caught in the early stages.
Merkel cell carcinoma is rare, accounting for less than 1 percent of total skin cancer diagnoses, though the number of patients diagnosed with the disease is thought to have tripled over the past two decades.
What causes merkel cell cancer?
the causes of Merkel cell cancer are not certain. We do know that UV exposure is a major risk factor so avoiding the sun during peak times (10 AM – 4 PM). A weakened immune system (solid organ transplant, HIV, chronic immune-suppression drugs) and older patients are at higher risk as well. There is also a common skin virus, called Merkel polyomavirus, that is found in approximately 80% of tested tumors but it is not know if this causes MCC.
Is merkel cell cancer hereditary?
No genetic link has been found to increase ones risk of of developing Merkel cell carcinoma.
What are merkel cell carcinoma symptoms?
Merkel cell cancers often present as a painless growth on the skin that can grow rapidly. Most of these appear on sun exposed skin. The growths are often flesh toned but can be many difference colors and can vary in size.
When to see a doctor
Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you observe changes in the appearance of your skin, such as finding a new growth, a change to a previous growth,, or a recurring sore.