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Signs and Symptoms of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare and aggressive type of skin cancer that is also known as neuroendocrine carcinoma. Merkel cell carcinoma usually appears on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the head, face and neck; however, it can occur on any area of the body, including non sun-exposed areas of the skin such as the buttocks. We have put together a list of common signs and symptoms of Merkel cell carcinoma below.

Also, we have information on diagnosis, helpful books and valuable resources for patients.

The Signs and Symptoms of Merkel Cell Carcinoma are as follows:

  • A flesh-colored or bluish-red painless bump or nodule on the skin that grows rapidly within a few weeks or months

If you notice an unusual mole on your body that is changing in size, shape or color, see your doctor immediately.

Risk factors for merkel cell carcinoma include exposure to ultraviolet light, such as the sun or artificial tanning beds; a history of other skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma; having a weakened immune system, such as people suffering from AIDS or taking immuno-suppressive drugs; being over the age of fifty; and having fair skin.

Diagnosis of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

A diagnosis of merkel cell carcinoma is made both through a physical examination of the mole in question, as well as a surgical biopsy. If the mole is given the diagnosis of merkel cell carcinoma, a sentinel node biopsy is often done to determine whether the cancer has spread beyond the skin into the lymph nodes. Imaging tests such as a CT scan or chest x-ray may also be recommended, to determine if the cancer has spread to other organs.

Books For People With Signs and Symptoms of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Merkel Cell Carcinoma
James N. Parker
Merkel Cell Carcinoma: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Molecular Medicine and Medicinal Chemistry)
Vernon K. Sondak

Merkel Cells, Merkel Cell Carcinoma and Neurobiology of the Skin
Hiroyuki Suzuki
Gale Encyclopedia of Cancer: Merkel cell carcinoma
Ed.M. Paul A. Johnson

Merkel Cell Carcinoma Resources

General Patient Resources

  • Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

We are physicians and researchers who work on Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), a rare and aggressive skin cancer. If you, your patient, or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with MCC, we hope you will find this website a great resource for information on the many pressing decisions that will need to be made. The information on this website includes frequently asked questions (FAQ) about MCC, the symptoms, causes, treatment and multidisciplinary management by established teams of doctors.

  • National Cancer Institute

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of Merkel cell carcinoma.

  • Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

A US Department of Health and Human Service project providing information on genetic and rare diseases. A comprehensive body of resources on Merkel cell carcinoma.

  • RD

Reviews Merkel cell carcinoma symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment information for Merkel cell carcinoma (Merkel cell cancer) with alternative diagnoses.

  • Derm Net NZ

Authoritative facts about the skin from the New Zealand Dermatological Society.

  • Skin Cancer Net

Reviewed by leading dermatologists, this page provides general information about Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare type of skin cancer.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, complications, treatment of this aggressive skin cancer.

  • Web MD

General facts about Merkel Cell Carcinoma.