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What Is Merkel Cell Skin Cancer

Where Does Mcc Occur On The Body

What is Merkel Cell Skin Cancer?

MCC primarily occurs on highly sun-exposed skin such as the head/neck and arms , but it can occur anywhere on the body, including sun-protected areas such as the buttock or the scalp under hair.

Solid circles depict MCC tumors that arose on the skin . Open circles indicate MCCs that presented in lymph nodes without an associated primary lesionprimary lesionThe abnormal tissue that appeared first. The majority of Merkel cell carcinoma primary lesions occur in sun-exposed areas. In some cases of MCC the patient has no primary lesion and instead has a nodal presentation . In these cases the primary lesion likely was destroyed by the immune system. . ;Recent data suggest that patients who present without a primary lesionlesionAn area of abnormal tissue that may be either benign or malignant. originally did have a lesion on the skin, but that their immune system eliminated the tumor. Elimination of the primary lesion is associated with less risk for patients that already have the same stagestagePhysicians determine the stage of cancer by performing physical exams and tests. Stages describe the extent of cancer within the body, especially whether the disease has spread from the primary site to other parts of the body. at presentation .

Where Is The Merkel Receptor Located And What Does It Do

Merkels Disks are located superficially in the dermis of skin at the base of the epidermis, and lie adjacent to Meissners corpuscles and sweat glands. These receptors respond to indentation of the skin. They adapt slowly to pressure, and therefore record the sustained presence of pressure on the skin.

What Is The Cause Of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Although the exact cause of Merkel cell carcinoma is unknown, researchers have recently discovered a virus, the Merkel cell polyomavirus , that resides harmlessly on the skin in most people. It is found in the cancer cells of about 8 out of 10 people with MCC. But because MCV is so common and MCC is so rare, it is not clear what role this virus plays in the development of MCC.

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What Is The Treatment For Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Diagnosis of Merkel cell carcinoma can be made by conducting a physical examination on the patient. They may also conduct skin biopsy, imaging tests like X-ray and CT scan, and certain blood tests to confirm the diagnosis of Merkel cell carcinoma .

The treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma is done using anti-cancer drugs and radiation therapy. If required, doctors can also consider surgical treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma, to remove the cancerous tumor along with some areas of the skin surrounding the tumor. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the region affected by skin tumor, treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma can also include surgical removal of the relevant lymph nodes. Other options of treatment for Merkel cell carcinoma also include chemotherapy if the Merkel cell carcinoma has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in their body, or if it has relapsed despite treatment.

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Appearance of skin lesions in a patient with Merkel cell ...

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PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: . Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>.

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How Is Merkel Cell Carcinoma Treated

Treatment is often done with more than 1 method. Treatment methods include:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor. This may include a border of healthy tissue.;Since Merkel cell carcinoma grows fast and often spreads , your provider may also remove nearby lymph nodes.

  • Radiation therapy.;This therapy uses X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This may be used after surgery. Or it may be the main treatment if surgery is not an option.

  • Chemotherapy.;This treatment is done with medicines. It helps destroy cancer cells in cases where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

After Merkel Cell Carcinoma Has Been Diagnosed Tests Are Done To Find Out If Cancer Cells Have Spread To Other Parts Of The Body

The process used to find out if cancer has spread to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment.

The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:

  • Immunohistochemistry: A laboratory test that uses antibodies to check for certain antigens in a sample of a patients tissue. The antibodies are usually linked to an enzyme or a fluorescent dye. After the antibodies bind to a specific antigen in the tissue sample, the enzyme or dye is activated, and the antigen can then be seen under a microscope. This type of test is used to help diagnose cancer and to help tell one type of cancer from another type of cancer.
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    Statistics: How Common Is Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.

    Though MCC is much less common than other types of skin cancer roughly 30 times less common than melanoma incidence has been increasing quickly, having quadrupled in the past few decades.

    According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, roughly 2,500 new cases of MCC are diagnosed annually in the United States.

    Though MCC is very rare, incidence has been rising quickly. A;study published in the March 2018 issue of the;Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that between 2000 and 2013, MCC increased by 95 percent. This trend is expected to continue, with annual incidence reaching 3,250 cases per year by 2025.

    Some of the uptick in MCC is likely due to the fact that lab tests to diagnose MCC have become more accurate. But it might also be caused by increases in risk factors. More people are living longer, and many people over age 65 did not regularly protect their skin from the sun.

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    Treatment Of Stage I And Stage Ii Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    What Is Merkel Cell Carcinoma? | Skin Cancer

    For information about the treatments listed below, see the Treatment Option Overview section.

    Use our clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials that are accepting patients. You can search for trials based on the type of cancer, the age of the patient, and where the trials are being done. General information about clinical trials is also available.

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    What You Can Do

    • Examine your skin;head-to-toe every month.
    • See your dermatologist every year;for a professional skin exam. If you are newly diagnosed with MCC, seek a consultation with a multidisciplinary expert. Find a specialist here.
    • If youve had an MCC, follow up regularly with your dermatologist once treatment is complete. Follow the exam schedule your doctor recommends its the best way to quickly detect a recurrence. Consider getting the AMERK biomarker blood test that can help detect recurrences early. Learn more here.
    • Safeguard your skin and avoid unprotected UV exposure. It is the single most effective way to reduce your risk of developing MCC.
    • Practice sun-safe habits, such as seeking shade and wearing protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day. Sunscreen is a good defense against premature aging and skin cancer. Its never too late to start wearing it!

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    How To Prevent Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    Although exposure to sunlight is still not a proven cause of Merkel cell carcinoma, it is known to be a risk factor for this type of cancer. To reduce their risk of developing Merkel cell carcinoma , one should try:

    • Avoiding sun exposure during peak hours, i.e. typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest.
    • Shielding the skin and eyes by wearing appropriate clothes, a wide-brimmed hat or umbrella and sunglasses with ultraviolet light protection.
    • Applying sunscreen, with an SPF of at least 15, frequently and generously.
    • Watching for changes like appearance of a freckle, mole, or bump which are changing in color, shape and size, and then informing the doctor about the same.

    While treatment for Merkel cell carcinoma is available, knowing the causes, risk factors and early signs can help to detect the problem at early stages.

    Written, Edited or Reviewed By:Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc.This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimerLast Modified On: August 5, 2021

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    How Dangerous Is Mcc

    While MCC is about three to five times more likely to be deadly than melanoma, with early detection, MCC can be treated successfully. If you think you might have MCC, see your doctor. Treatment becomes increasingly difficult once the disease has spread, but new options are now available. Thanks to advances in the field of immunotherapy, MCC survival rates are improving.

    Coping With Merkel Cell Cancer

    Clinical Photos of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    Many people feel worried, depressed, and stressed when dealing with cancer. Getting treatment for cancer can be tough on your mind and body. Keep talking with your healthcare team about any problems or concerns you have. Work together to ease the effect of cancer and its symptoms on your daily life.

    To help ease your stress:

    • Talk with your family or friends.
    • Ask your healthcare team or social worker for help.
    • Speak with a counselor.
    • Join a cancer support group.

    Cancer treatment is also hard on the body. To help yourself stay healthier, try to:

    • Eat a healthy diet, with a focus on high-protein foods.
    • Drink plenty of water, fruit juices, and other liquids.
    • Keep physically active.
    • Rest as much as needed.
    • Talk with your healthcare team about ways to manage treatment side effects.
    • Take your medicines as directed by your team.

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    Tests And Procedures That Examine The Skin Are Used To Diagnose Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    The following tests and procedures may be used:

    • Physical exam and health history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patients health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
    • Full-body skin exam: A doctor or nurse checks the skin for bumps or spots that look abnormal in color, size, shape, or texture. The size, shape, and texture of the lymph nodes will also be checked.
    • Skin biopsy: The removal of skin cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer.

    What Are The Causes Of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    While the exact causes of Merkel cell carcinoma are still not clear, certain possible risk factors have been identified. It is believed that infection with Merkel cell polyomavirus and long-term sun exposure may be responsible for triggering this illness. Other risk factors that can trigger or cause Merkel cell carcinoma also include aging. People older than 50 years of age and those with weak immunity are greater risk. Psoriasis patients treated with psoralen, people with light skin color, men, and excessive and prolonged exposure to UV rays, sunlight and tanning beds face greater risk and can be some of the causes of Merkel cell carcinoma.

    Merkel cell carcinoma spreads rapidly, both locally and also to distant regions of the body. Nearly 66% of people diagnosed with this illness have local cancer, 27% have cancer involving the lymph node and 7% have metastasis disease. Early diagnosis of Merkel cell carcinoma is vital for proper treatment and better prognosis.

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    How Is Merkel Cell Cancer Diagnosed

    Tests and procedures that examine the skin are used to detect and diagnose Merkel cell carcinoma.

    The following tests and procedures may be used:

    • Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patientâs health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
    • Full-body skin exam: A doctor or nurse checks the skin for bumps or spots that look abnormal in color, size, shape, or texture. The size, shape, and texture of the lymph nodes will also be checked.
    • Skin biopsy: The removal of skin cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer.

    There Are Three Ways That Cancer Spreads In The Body

    Dermatologists warn of Merkel Cell Carcinoma during Skin Cancer Awareness Month

    Cancer can spread through tissue, the lymph system, and the blood:

    • Tissue. The cancer spreads from where it began by growing into nearby areas.
    • Lymph system. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the lymph system. The cancer travels through the lymph vessels to other parts of the body.
    • Blood. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the blood. The cancer travels through the blood vessels to other parts of the body.

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    What Is The Outlook For Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    Merkel call carcinoma is uncommon, so its difficult to estimate an accurate survival rate. The survival rate tells you what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive after a defined period of time after diagnosis.

    According to the American Cancer Society, the overall five-year survival rate for MCC is about 60 percent. This means that about 60 percent of people diagnosed with MCC will still be alive after five years.

    Your outlook depends on how early the cancer is diagnosed. The following five-year relative survival rates are based on stages 1 through 4 of diagnosis:

    • stage 1A: 80 percent

    What Will Happen After Treatment

    Youll be glad when treatment is over. For years after treatment ends, you will see your cancer doctor. Be sure to go to all of these follow-up visits. You will have exams, blood tests, and maybe other tests to see if the cancer has come back.

    At first, your visits may be every 3 to 6 months. Then, the longer youre cancer-free, the less often the visits are needed. After 3 years, they may be done once or twice a year.

    Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be hard, but it can also be a time to look at your life in new ways. You might be thinking about how to improve your health. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or talk to your cancer care team to find out what you can do to feel better.

    You cant change the fact that you have cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life making healthy choices and feeling as good as you can.

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    Merkel Cell Carcinoma Symptoms

    Typically, the first sign of MCC is the appearance of a red or purple lump or bump on the skin. They may be firm and dome-shaped, and usually doesn’t cause any pain.

    Unfortunately, this symptom can be mistaken for a number of other skin blemishes, so it’s best to get the lump examined as soon as possible.

    Some things an MCC tumor can mimic include:

    • Bites
    • Styes
    • Hair follicles

    One sign that the lump or bump might be an MCC tumor is if it grows very quickly.

    The Risks The Causes What You Can Do

    Clinical Photos of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    Anything that increases your likelihood of developing a disease like Merkel cell carcinoma is called a risk factor.

    These factors put you at increased risk for the disease. For more information about risk factors, click the links below.

    • History of unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or indoor tanning.
    • Weakened immune system, due to a medical condition or medications.
    • History of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma , squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma.
    • Age: Most people who develop MCC are over 50 years old.
    • Gender: Men are more likely to get the disease
    • Fair skin: People with fair skin;are at greater risk for MCC, but it can affect anyone.

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    Facts On Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    • Merkel cell carcinoma is a very rare disease in which malignant cells form in the skin.
    • Sun exposure and having a weak immune system can affect the risk of Merkel cell carcinoma.
    • Merkel cell carcinoma usually appears as a single painless lump on sun-exposed skin.
    • Tests and procedures that examine the skin are used to detect and diagnose Merkel cell carcinoma.
    • Certain factors affect prognosis and treatment options.
    • After Merkel cell carcinoma has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.
    • There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.
    • Cancer may spread from where it began to other parts of the body.
    • The following stages are used for Merkel cell carcinoma:
    • Stage 0
    • Stage I
  • There are different types of treatment for patients with Merkel cell carcinoma.
  • Three types of standard treatment are used:
  • Surgery
  • New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.
  • Treatment for Merkel cell carcinoma may cause side effects.
  • Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
  • Patients can enter clinical trials before, during, or after starting their cancer treatment.
  • Follow-up tests may be needed.
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