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Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Have you been showing symptoms and warning signs of skin cancer, and think it may be merkel cell carcinoma? While this skin cancer is rare and only affects around 3,000 people each year, the number of annual cases diagnosed in the United States is on the rise.
This is why it’s important to learn as much as you can about merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), including what this cancer is, the causes of MCC, its warning signs and symptoms, and the top merkel cell carcinoma treatments.
What is Merkel Cell Carcinoma?
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare form of skin cancer that begins in the merkel cells, which are a type of skin neuroendocrine cell that are connected to the nerves and also play a role in hormone production. Merkel cells are found mainly in the epidermis, better known as the top layer of skin.
When merkel cells begin to grow uncontrollably, most often due to cell DNA damage, a merkel cell tumor will arise on the skin.
Merkel cell carcinoma is primarily thought to be caused by excessive, unprotected exposure to UV rays, such as the sun or tanning beds. This exposure causes cell DNA mutations, which trigger the rapid reproduction of cells (this is the main characteristic of cancer).
There are additional risk factors associated with merkel cell carcinoma. This includes:
- Being of older age.
- Having a weakened immune system.
- Having a fair appearance, such as lighter skin.
- History of other skin cancers.
If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the cause of merkel cell carcinoma or its risk factors, please contact the board-certified dermatologists at Brentwood Dermatology.
Merkel cell carcinoma is one of the most dangerous skin cancers due to the increased risk of it metastasizing (spreading to other areas of the body).
Furthermore, merkel cell carcinoma is an aggressive skin cancer and spreads much faster than other types, such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. This is why it’s essential to learn the warning signs and symptoms of merkel cell carcinoma, as early detection is key for effective treatment.
There are some key warning signs of merkel cell carcinoma to look out for. They often appear on sun-exposed areas but not always, which is why it is crucial to regularly perform monthly self-exams of the skin to detect any changes.
Here’s what you should look out for when examining the skin for merkel cell carcinoma:
- Small, shiny and pearly-like bump (it may look similar to a pimple).
- Painless bumps that range in color – flesh-toned, red, purple, or bluish-red.
- Bump that may look similar to a bug bite.
- Lump that grows at rapid speed.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, visit a board-certified dermatologist as soon as possible for a professional evaluation and diagnosis. It’s important to detect merkel cell carcinoma early for optimal treatment.
This depends on several factors, including age, other medical conditions, and stage of the cancer, among other things. Thus, it’s impossible to determine how long someone can live with merkel cell carcinoma.
However, the 5-year survival rate for someone with localized MCC, meaning it has not spread beyond its starting point, is around 76%.
Merkel Cell Carcinoma
If you’ve been diagnosed with merkel cell carcinoma, or another type of skin cancer, get in touch with the board-certified dermatologists at Brentwood Dermatology today. We’re experts in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating skin cancer to help our patients restore the health of their skin. Schedule your skin cancer treatment in Brentwood, Tennessee, by requesting an appointment online or by calling (615) 377-3448.